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2021 GLENN-NORWALK GIRLS VARSITY BASKETBALL CLASSIC – Norwalk’s fourth quarter rally against Whittier comes up short in consolation championship



December 10, 2021


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


After a one-year stoppage due to the pandemic, the 2021 Glenn-Norwalk Girls Varsity Basketball Classic returned with eight games played last Saturday, wrapping up the four-day event. Besides the co-hosts, La Mirada High was the only other area team taking part, but it was Norwalk High which had a chance to take home some hardware.

Trailing by 13 points to Whittier High a little over a minute into the second half, the Lancers rebounded to take a lead nearly midway through the fourth quarter. But Norwalk was limited to three shots from the field over the final 4:45, connecting on one of them, and the Cardinals rallied for a 44-40 win in the consolation championship game.

“Whittier is a great team; I love the competitiveness,” said Norwalk head coach Ashley Baclaan. “We did have a lot of [mental breakdowns] and turnovers, but the girls battled. So, it was a good game. We just needed to pick up our defense and I think that’s exactly what they did, and they were able to get us back within a few points. But unfortunately, it was a couple of missed buckets and some turnovers that we couldn’t inch all the way through.”

Whittier was up 27-14 before Norwalk began to chip away at its deficit and it began with a three-pointer from senior Makayla Moore with 5:15 remaining in the third period. A trifecta from senior Denise Cortez and an offensive rebound and basket from junior Areli Gonzalez brought the Lancers to within five points.

The Cardinals would increase their lead to 10 points in a span of a minute before the hosts rounded out the quarter on a 9-0 run, then began the fourth quarter with a free throw from senior Katrina Slaughter and a steal and basket from Cortez, giving Norwalk its first lead since late in the opening quarter. Another Cortez basket put Norwalk up 38-34 but the Cardinals stormed back, scoring the game’s next 10 points to pull out the victory.

After Whittier scored the first four points of the game, a three-pointer from Moore and baskets from senior Nia Johnson and Cortez got the Lancers going. However, the second quarter would prove to be disastrous for Norwalk as it was one of 10 from the field and the one basket didn’t come until the 4:21 mark of the stanza.

Norwalk would go through scoring droughts of 5:47 in the first half and 5:05 from the middle of the second quarter to the third quarter. Moore, who was named to the all-tournament team, scored a game-high 16 points with four three-pointers while Cortez added 11 points. Johnson pulled down 10 rebounds and Gonzalez and Slaughter chipped in with nine and eight rebounds respectively.

“It was definitely much needed,” Baclaan said of Moore’s performance. “She’s definitely a leader for the team. She stepped up the way we needed her to step up.”

Norwalk began the season with four straight wins before falling to Lakewood High 42-36 on Dec. 1 in the first game of the tournament. The Lancers responded with wins over South El Monte High (62-25) and Whittier Christian High (42-27) the next two nights before last Saturday. Sophomore Keilani Ganancial, who didn’t play last Saturday, scored 43 points in the tournament followed by Slaughter (42 points), Cortez (37 points) and Moore (26 points).

The Lancers visited Marina High on Dec. 9 and go to San Gabriel High tonight before hosting Santa Ana Valley on Tuesday and John Glenn High on Thursday.

“I wish we could have come out 3-1 in this tournament, but I am pleased as to how the girls have started out the season,” Baclaan said. “I think they’re waking up and seeing what they’re capable of doing. It’s just a matter of now bringing in that consistency.”

The first game last Saturday pitted Glenn against St. Joseph and it was no contest as the Jesters routed the Eagles 50-5. St. Joseph scored the first 10 points of the game before freshman Maritza Corona got Glenn on the board a little over three minutes into the contest. The Jesters then scored the next 29 points in the blowout win. Senior Ruby Chavez would score the other three points for Glenn, which turned the ball over 43 times and was 14 shots from the field in the game, none in the fourth quarter.

Glenn, which hasn’t won in seven games this season, lost to Huntington Beach High 45-1 on Dec. 1, Santa Fe High 69-12 on Dec. 2 and La Mirada 51-16 last Friday. In addition, Glenn hasn’t scored more than 17 points in any of the first seven games and has not had anyone score more than nine points in any game. The Eagles visited El Segundo High this past Wednesday and South El Monte on Dec. 9.

Following the Glenn-St. Joseph game, La Mirada knocked off South El Monte 39-28 for its second win of the season after five consecutive losses. In a low-scoring first half, the game was tied 11-11 at the half as the Matadores went on a 7-1 run over the final five minutes. La Mirada put the game away with six straight points to begin the second half and although South El Monte tried to make a few mini runs to get back in the game, a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter sealed the deal for the Matadores, who went up 33-20 midway through the stanza.

Senior Breanna Ibarra and sophomore Jirah Domingo each scored 13 points with the latter also recording six steals and four rebounds. Junior Mira Ghadban had eight points, five rebounds and three steals while freshman Jael Arreguin added seven rebounds and six steals.

La Mirada, which will visit Fullerton High on Monday, lost to Los Altos High 65-17 on Dec. 1 and Whittier 42-10 the next night.

The tournament featured a first-time champion as Mary Star of the Sea High, the defending CIF-Southern Section 4AA champions, which had no time with Los Altos High 48-29. Third place went to Fountain Valley High, which defeated Huntington Beach High 44-34 and Leuzinger High won fifth place over Lakewood High 56-36.

“I thought we had a great tournament,” Baclaan said. “The last day came out with solid battles all the way throughout, and that’s what we want. All of the matchups ended up being where they needed to be,”