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605 LEAGUE BASKETBALL : Whitney’s new freshman superstar single handily beats Artesia

Artesia High freshman Samerika Young takes one of her eight attempt as Whitney High freshman Rachel Song defends her in last Friday night’s 605 League contest. Whitney defeated Artesia 66-24 as Young scored five points, all in the first quarter. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

First, there was Rachel Nagel. Then came Christine Hamakawa. Now, Layla Lacorte is quickly making a name for herself in the history of Whitney High girls basketball, and the freshman has played a little over half a season.

Lacorte could have been the only player going against Artesia High last Friday night and still would have beaten the host Lady Pioneers as she scored a career-high 29 points in a 66-24 victory.

“I think that Layla is a phenomenal freshman that’s going to be the future of Whitney,” said Whitney first-year head coach Myron Jacobs. “She’s a great shooter, has great basketball IQ, she works hard in practice and works hard in the game. Don’t get me wrong, she does have games where she gets in a slump. But she learns how to work her way out of it as a freshman.”

Her three-pointer off an assist from senior Janelle Ho gave her team a 14-8 lead with 1:07 left in the first quarter and ignited a 15-0 run that lasted 7:23. 

Artesia was true on only six field goals in 29 attempts in the first half and trailed by 20 at the break. Junior Mariah Jarnet and freshman Samerika Young each scored five points in the first half, which would also be their ending totals. Meanwhile, Lacorte was having a field day, connecting on half a dozen three-pointers in the first half while shooting 50 percent. She would end the game hitting on 10 of 18 shots from the field with all but one coming from beyond the arc.

“I think we started off the game sluggish,” Jacobs said. “We were coming off a win against Oxford [Academy], so we were a little tired and our minds were somewhere else. I think after I called the timeout and settling down, we got back to the basics.”

Junior Kimberly Hosoda added 14 points and nine rebounds while sophomore Eliana Amanuel also grabbed nine rebounds as the Lady Wildcats would dominate the boards to the tune of a 45-19 advantage. Sophomore Dayzhia Young came off the bench to lead Artesia with seven points, but the team would have three players foul out and five of the nine players who saw action would score.

Artesia hosted Samueli Academy this past Monday and breezed to a 46-23 victory before falling to Oxford Academy 61-50 this past Tuesday, falling to 15-3 overall. Whitney would drop a 46-38 decision to John Glenn High this past Tuesday and saw its overall mark go to 7-11 overall, 2-1 in the 605 League. Junior Julianna Lee led the Lady Wildcats with 12 points while Hosoda grabbed nine rebounds, has six steals and dished out four assists. 

“I tell my kids it’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish it,” Jacobs said. “Preseason is meant to be hard; to prepare you for the league games. I think our preseason by far was harder than any team that we’ve played in league and I know that moving forward, we just have to take one game at a time and stay humble and keep fighting.”

Meanwhile, the Artesia boys scored 10 straight points in the first quarter and never looked back as the Pioneers posted a 75-36 victory. Artesia shot 61 percent from the field in the first half and led 41-14 at the break with nine of the 14 players having scored at least a point. The Wildcats never scored more than three straight points at any time until late in the fourth quarter when junior Dhilan Amin and sophomore Andrew Sim hit consecutive three-pointers.

Artesia sophomore Tyler Miller led everyone with 12 points while senior Cameron West came off the bench to post a career-high 11 points. Whitney was paced by Amin and senior Victor Ufondu, who each scored eight points off the bench. 

The Pioneers would then drop a 55-53 decision to Oxford Academy this past Tuesday to fall to 10-11 overall and 1-2 in the 605 League while Whitney rallied from 13 points down in the second quarter against Glenn and outscored the Eagles 18-8 in the fourth quarter to come away with a 52-43 win, improving to 8-11 overall and 2-1 in league action. Freshman Ethan Wong led Whitney with 26 points while Ufondu added 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Both Artesia teams will host Glenn tonight and Pioneer High on Wednesday while Whitney will be home to Pioneer tonight before going to Cerritos High on Wednesday. In addition, the Lady Pioneers will entertain Fulton Prep on Saturday.