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605 LEAGUE BASKETBALL – Artesia basketball sweeps John Glenn to begin 605 League action

January 6, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter


It’s no secret that the John Glenn High boys basketball team has improved tremendously this season, sporting a .500 record as it ventured into Artesia High’s gymnasium this past Tuesday night for the 605 League opener. Even though the Eagles have not defeated the Pioneers in at least over two decades, some think this might be the best chance to end that drought.

However, that would not be the case on this night as the Pioneers had enough to put together a 54-36 victory, improving to 13-4 overall. The 54 points marked the fewest points scored against the Eagles since Jan. 25, 2013, a 47-42 decision.

“We’re down a couple of guys; obviously Covid is affecting everyone, so we just wanted to get this one in,” said Artesia head coach Jeff Myles. “First of all, it was a good thing. We came out kind of slow and kind of sloppy. But the guys kind of stuck to the game plan and in the second half, we made a couple of adjustments and got the win.”

Glenn scored the first three points before a three-pointer from freshman Cayden Del Rosario tied the game over two minutes into the contest. That would be the beginning of a 9-0 run that jumped started the Pioneers, who began the week ranked second in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA poll. But even though Glenn wouldn’t score consecutive baskets in the first half, it remained within three possessions, somewhat of a delight to first-year head coach Sam Abebe, but a little of a concern to Myles.

Artesia was up 23-14 at the half and had an eight-point lead 40 seconds into the second half before a 6-0 run pretty much ensured the Pioneers would come away with the win. They shot 50 percent from the field in the third quarter despite the Eagles, ranked eighth in Division 5A, scoring one fewer point than it did the entire first half.

“I think in the first half, we missed a couple of bunnies, so it made the score a little closer than it was,” Myles said. “[Junior] Steve [Anderson] and [sophomore] Aaron [Banks] haven’t played in about two weeks, so those guys were rusty, and it showed early. In the second half, they kind of settled down, made those shots and the shots went in.”

“At the end of the first quarter, [I told] my guys to hold the ball because I wanted to go into half down nine,” Abebe said. “I know a couple of open-made threes on a couple of kickouts…we can get back into the game real easy.”

Consecutive baskets from Glenn senior Natanael Jacobo made it 38-27 with 2:24 left in the third quarter. But the Eagles (6-7 overall) wouldn’t get closer as the hosts quickly went on a 13-2 run over the next 4:34. Anderson, who had been a starter all season but missed the three games played in San Diego at The Holiday Classic, came off the bench to score 15 points while senior Yutong Zhang added 13 points and had four steals. Sophomore Zion Staples pitched in with 10 points and 16 rebounds.

Glenn, who had eight players, three of which were called up from the junior varsity team, was led by Jacobo’s 15 points and three steals while junior Sebastian Figueroa added 10 points and six rebounds.

“We had a chance; we had a chance to win that game,” Abebe said. “I think we only hit one or two perimeter shots tonight. It was a struggle tonight to get shots to go into the basket. With this team, unfortunately, they have fallen in love with [the] three-ball. When the three-balls aren’t going down, they seem to not know how to get points.”

“That’s probably the best Glenn team I’ve seen in a while,” Myles said. “They played hard, they ran some good stuff on offense and defense, and it looks like [Abebe] is coaching them up; real, real intense. I think Glenn is going to be a team that you can’t look over. I know back in the days, some teams looked at Glenn and they [knew] it was an automatic win. But hat’s off to them; they played us tough.”

Prior to the game, the Artesia girls were shorthanded, but it didn’t matter as the Pioneers crushed the Eagles 55-6, snapping a three-game slide to improve to 10-6 overall. Artesia, ranked 15th in Division 4AA, scored the first 16 points of the game until freshman Maritza Corona put the Eagles (0-13) on the board. Artesia would then score the next 36 points before Corona scored her second of three baskets with 64 seconds remaining in the game.

“It’s a new year, so it’s good to officially now start league,” said Artesia assistant coach Que Vanhook. “We’re not a full strength as far as everyone [coming] back [from Covid protocols]. But it feels good to be back and finally competing.”

Artesia has not played since Dec. 21 as its scheduled game with University High on Dec. 30 was cancelled. The Pioneers played with five varsity players and three freshmen who were called up from the lower levels and were paced by senior Esja Shriver, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior Sydnee McKee added 13 points and seven rebounds while senior Jordan Manning and junior Alana Pascua each had 10 points with the latter grabbing 10 rebounds along with five steals. Shriver’s 14 points marked just the third time this season she has reached double figures.

“Tonight, she definitely stepped up and filled our point guard spot that’s out right now,” Vanhook said. “This season, her whole confidence has turned around and she’s given us a boost. She has a motor to where she can go off on any given night. I think she’s developing into a really great scorer and point guard for us, and I’m excited for her.”

Both Artesia teams are scheduled to visit Cerritos High tonight before hosting Oxford Academy on Tuesday while the Glenn squads are slated to entertain Whitney High tonight before going to Pioneer High on Tuesday. In addition, the Glenn boys team has a makeup game at Baldwin Park High on Saturday and at Norwalk High on Wednesday.

“You can never overlook anybody, especially Cerritos,” Myles said. “These guys have known each other probably since middle school, so it’s always going to be tough. Yeah, they might be down, but it’s Cerritos and guys are going to get up for the game. If we can get the game in, it’s going to be a good one.”

“I’m a confident player and I’m a confident coach and I’m confident in my team,” Abebe said. “I know they’re not used to having this kind of success. I’ve had a lot of players tell me that. I have 100 percent confidence we’re going to make the playoffs. I have 100 percent confidence that we’re going to be a top three team in this league.”