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605 LEAGUE BASKETBALL : Cerritos takes care of Artesia with ease in league opener for both

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

The 605 League opener for the Cerritos High boys and girls basketball teams against Artesia High was supposed to be much closer than their respective scores showed when the clock read triple zeros this past Tuesday night. While the Cerritos girls knocked the Lady Pioneers from the ranks of the unbeaten, the boys held Artesia to single digits in each of the final three quarters.

The Artesia girls showcased a different starting lineup due to discipline issues and Cerritos took advantage of it, outscoring the visiting Lady Pioneers 20-2 in the opening quarter and cruising to a 59-32 victory. It brought Cerritos’ record to 8-9 overall as the Lady Dons are looking to reach the .500 mark for the seventh time this season. The team has been above .500 twice this season but never two games above. 

“It’s one of the better [quarters] we’ve had all year,” said Cerritos head coach Marcus Chinen. “They had a couple of players, I believe, who were out this game. So, it’s going to be a different game next time. We can’t just go out there and expect to have the same outcome the next time we see them.”

“We had things we had to take care of as a team, and if a team rule is violated and some things don’t go right…people miss practice, we have to do what we have to do as a coaching staff,” said Artesia head coach Shonyta Pouncey. “I will not bend the rule for anybody.”

Not only did the Lady Pioneers (13-1) have issues with scoring throughout the game, shooting three of 14 from the field in the first half, they had ball-handling problems as well, turning the ball over 36 times, 20 coming in the first half. Still, Chinen wasn’t going to let his team think it was going to be a cake walk.

“I think just by the girls knowing and understanding that they’re 13-0…they’re 13-0 for a reason,” Chinen said. “And not just because they went in and just beat teams that weren’t competitive in that way. They worked hard in the offseason to get to 13-0. So, our girls went into the game with the mentality of they’re 13-0 and right now they have the best record in the area. We have to play our game, or they could come get a game from us.”

Seven players combined to score 30 first half points but by the time the game was over, 12 of the 13 players who saw action had scored at least one basket. Seniors Alyson Chang and sophomore Jasmine Uy each led everyone with a dozen points with the latter coming off the bench. Chang also had five steals as 10 players had at least a steal.

“We’ve been doing that the whole preseason, too,” Chinen said. “Not just rely on eight or nine players. We’ve been playing our entire bench, getting them ready for the playoffs. Earlier in the season, we had four ankle injuries. The girls who are supposed to learn from the veteran players, or the ones who have been in our program, ended up finding themselves on the court faster.”

For the Lady Pioneers, freshman Alana Pascua came off the bench to score eight points while junior Priscilla Robles added seven points. Sophomore Jordan Manning led all players with nine rebounds.

“We saw that the younger kids can play a little bit,” Pouncey said. “They’re gritty kids; they’re under five feet. But they’re strong. We had a lot of freshmen kids play about a quarter and a half and a lot of sophomore kids on the court. So, for us, it’s just good to have it going.

 “This has been the best team since I’ve been here, and I still hang my hat on them,” Pouncey later added. “We are going to make the playoffs and we’re going to make a good run into it.”

The boys game started out being a competitive one with Artesia holding an 11-5 lead nearly midway through the opening quarter. But the Dons went on a 13-2 run the remainder of the stanza, then outscored the visitors 20-3 in the second quarter on their way to a 60-29 victory. Cerritos, which began the week as the fifth ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA poll, improved to 12-5 while Artesia fell to 9-10 but has won four of its last six games.

After missing the first five shots of the game, the Pioneers got a basket from junior Matthew Borroto and two straight from senior Miguel Javier to make it a 9-3 contest. After that, the Pioneers would not hit consecutive baskets until the final 90 seconds of the third quarter.
The Dons would limit Artesia to six points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth quarter as Artesia scored a season-low in points.

“I was disappointed in our first quarter,” said Cerritos co-head coach Jonathan Watanabe. “It wasn’t the effort that was lacking. It was our focus. We spend a lot of time going through scouting reports and how we’re going to guard specific players and we didn’t do a very good job in the first quarter. We let a lot of their players go to their number one option; go to their strengths. I’m glad we were able to buckle down in the second quarter and then take away those strengths.”

“I have to really go back and watch the film,” said Artesia co-head coach Jeff Myles of the second quarter. “I think we kind of took a couple of rushed shots [and] they made a couple of threes. We tried to play a little too fast and went away from our game plan. The game plan in the first quarter kind of worked; obviously it was a close game. But for whatever reason, we let the emotion of the game get to us.”

A three-pointer from senior Jagger Uy with 2:54 left in the opening stanza put Cerritos up for good at 12-11 and was the second of three long range shots in the quarter for Cerritos. After sophomore Tyler Miller hit a free throw 13 seconds into the second quarter, Cerritos would score the next 17 consecutive points and the rout was on.

Junior Alexander Archer led everyone with 15 points and grabbed five rebounds while Uy and junior Obinna Ene each added a dozen points with Ene also pulling down six rebounds. Senior Cameron West, who came off the bench and junior Jonathan Nelson each had six points for the Pioneers.

“The guys have gotten to the level of where we needed to be at earlier than we had thought they would be,” Watanabe said. “They are ahead of schedule. Our thing now as coaches is just to try to get them not to be complacent and satisfied. We have to continue to be hungry and push forward.”

Both Artesia teams will host Whitney High tonight before going to Oxford Academy on Tuesday while Cerritos will travel to John Glenn High tonight and Pioneer High on Tuesday. In addition, the Cerritos boys team will face Cypress High on Saturday at Long Beach City College while the Artesia girls team entertains Samuelli Academy on Monday.