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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Fourth quarter rally comes up short for Cerritos boys basketball against La Serna  


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December 16, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

It’s been an uncharacteristic slow start for the Cerritos High boys basketball team, winning just two of its first nine games entering this past Tuesday night’s home encounter with La Serna High. And, during the fourth quarter, the Dons thought they would have their first significant comeback victory, almost erasing a 17-point deficit.

But time ran out and Cerritos dropped a 55-48, its second setback of seven points or fewer this season. Cerritos trailed 47-30 after three quarters but scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter and trailed 52-48 with 26.7 seconds remaining after a steal and basket from senior Alec Reyes. The Dons were able to get off only one field goal attempt the rest of the way while the Lancers connected on three free throws in seven free chances.

“I think the guys really just started buying in going into the fourth quarter,” said Cerritos co-head coach Julian Dimacale. “The energy started picking up [and] guys were trusting each other. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the scorecard today. But all in all, I’m proud of their effort going into the fourth quarter. It’s a game of runs and we were due for our run. We just didn’t have enough time to execute at the end of the day.”

Junior Dominic Dela Cruz hit a three-pointer just past the halfway mark of the opening stanza to give the Dons a 7-4 lead before La Serna went on an 18-1 run that lasted until the 4:49 mark of the second quarter. La Serna was able to hold a double digit lead for the rest of the second quarter and throughout the third.

Then, the Dons woke up and it began with a Reyes steal and basket almost three minutes into the final stanza. Nearly two minutes later, junior Andrew Hartman, who was on fire the second half, scored three straight baskets, the last two from offensive putbacks and with 2:21 left to play, it was 48-44.

While Reyes had eight points, eight steals and three assists, Hartman, who has not scored in five straight games, had a season-high 16 points, all after halftime, shooting six of 11 from the field and grabbing 10 rebounds. Also contributing was senior Matthew Gray, who pitched in with 11 points and four boards.

“As talented as Andrew is, he has a multi-faceted game,” Dimacale said. “Honestly, I feel like the fact that he’s been out these past couple of games was just more of a motivating factor to try to leave it more on the court tonight. We definitely couldn’t have sparked that run without him. Hopefully he continues this high level of play going forward.”

Cerritos entered the game averaging just over 36 points a game and the 48 points was the second most the Dons have posted this season. The black and gold visited Cypress High on Dec. 16 and will host Price High on Saturday as part of the G.Y.M.R.A.T. Challenge before hosting Gahr High on Thursday. The acronym stands for Gifted Young Men Ready At Any Time, first used by legendary former Cerritos head coach Ian Desborough. There will be seven games on Saturday involving lower level and varsity teams from Cerritos, Loyola High, Norwalk High, Price, Santa Fe High and Sunny Hills High.

“I really do commend some of these boys for battling through everything that’s been going on,” Dimacale said. “I feel like every team is going to go through their growing pains. Unfortunately, ours just happens to be at the beginning of the season. But we have a very talented group of guys. We have guys who want to win, guys that are willing to compete and I’m willing to ride that into way every single day. I know we’ll be able to pick it up going forward.”

In other boys basketball action, Artesia High remained the hottest team in the area, and the only one with 10 victories after edging Santa Monica High 69-65 in double overtime last Friday on the road. The Pioneers (10-2), the top-ranked team in Division 4AA as selected by the CIF-Southern Section Boys Basketball Advisory Committee, will host Long Beach Wilson High tonight before taking the next 10 days off before their next game.

Following a 55-37 win against Blair High this past Monday, Glenn High moved above .500 for the second time this season. The Eagles (6-5), winners of four of their last six and ranked 10th in Division 5A, visited Norwalk on Dec. 16 and will host Bosco Tech High on Saturday, Sierra Vista High on Tuesday and Baldwin Park on Thursday.

La Mirada High, ranked eighth in Division 2A, fell to Walnut High 63-53 in the last game of the St. John Bosco Braves Winter Classic last Saturday to drop to 5-8. The Matadores went to Los Alamitos High on Dec. 16 and will host San Diego-based Montgomery High on Saturday.

Norwalk edged Whittier High 52-50 this past Monday for its third game of the season while Valley Christian High (5-5) has been off since Dec. 4 and will travel to Chaminade High on Wednesday.


Cerritos (6-3) visited Santa Margarita High on Dec. 16 and will host Norwalk on Saturday in the G.Y.M.R.A.T. Challenge while Gahr dropped to 1-10 after a 71-22 loss to Wilson on Dec. 10 and will face Glendale High on Tuesday.

Glenn (0-7) went to Norwalk on Dec. 16 and will host Anaheim High on Saturday and Baldwin Park on Thursday while Norwalk is having one of its better starts to any season, improving to 10-2 after defeating Marina High 58-24 last Thursday, San Gabriel High 62-52 last Friday and Santa Ana Valley High 63-53 this past Tuesday.

V.C. (0-11) hasn’t played since falling to Norwalk 42-30 on Dec. 7 and will host Fullerton High tonight while Whitney defeated Santa Fe 54-29 this past Tuesday to improve to 9-2. The Wildcats, ranked 16th in Division 3AA, went to Garden Grove High on Dec. 16 and will travel to Estancia High on Saturday before hosting Santiago High on Tuesday.


Artesia, ranked sixth in Division 5, doubled up Mayfair High 4-2 this past Tuesday to improve to 4-1-1 on the season. The Pioneers hosted The Webb Schools on Dec. 16 and will entertain Santa Fe today before going to Baldwin Park on Tuesday.

Cerritos (0-3-1) hosted North Torrance High on Dec. 16 while Gahr was blanked by Kennedy High 3-0 this past Tuesday to fall to 1-5. The Gladiators hosted Mayfair on Dec. 16.

Glenn has not scored in any of its seven games thus far as it hosted Firebaugh High while Norwalk picked up its third straight 3-2 decision, this one over Sonora High last Friday to improve to 5-0-2. The Lancers, ranked second in Division 2, visit Schurr High today.

V.C., ranked fourth in Division 5, lost for the first time, a 3-2 decision to South Hills High last Saturday in the Troy Tournament. The Defenders (7-1-1) go to Crean Lutheran High today while Whitney lost to Long Beach Cabrillo High 5-0 this past Tuesday to see its record go to 1-6. The Wildcats will visit Samueli Academy today.


Artesia remained winless through its first nine games after a 4-3 setback to Norwalk this past Tuesday. The Pioneers hosted Savanna High on Dec. 16 and will host St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy and Leuzinger High on Saturday in the Best In The West Winter Classic.

Cerritos, also in the Best In The West Winter Classic, tied Westminster High 0-0 and Palm Desert High 1-1 to go to 3-1-3 as the Dons travelled to North Torrance on Dec. 16 before facing Pasadena Poly High in the first of two games on Saturday to conclude the tournament. Cerritos is ranked seventh in Division 7.

Gahr lost a pair of 1-0 games to San Pedro High and Palmdale High in the Best In The West Winter Classic to see its record go to 2-6. The team visited St. Joseph High on Dec. 16 and will go to Montebello High in the first of two tournament games on Saturday, then travel to Santa Ana Calvary Chapel High on Tuesday.

Glenn, winless in seven games, visited Bassett High on Dec. 16 and will travel to Savanna on Tuesday and Ellen Ochoa Prep on Thursday while La Mirada (4-1-2) fell to Long Beach Poly High 1-0 and tied Canyon High 0-0 in the Best In The West Winter Classic last Saturday, then tied Warren High 1-1 this past Tuesday. The Matadores will face Warren again on Saturday in one of two tournament games.

Norwalk improved to 2-7-1 with its win against Artesia and hosted San Gabriel on Dec. 16. The Lancers will also host Brea Olinda High on Monday begore going to California High on Wednesday while V.C. fell to Marshall High 4-2 before blanking Kaiser High 4-0 in the Best In The West Winter Classic last Saturday. The Defenders (4-2) hosted Mayfair on Dec. 16 and will play Notre Dame Academy in the first tournament game on Saturday.