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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Cerritos girls basketball blown out by another Orange County opponent in playoff tune-up

February 2, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

FULLERTON-If last Saturday night’s Cerritos High girls basketball game at Troy High was to be a tune-up for the upcoming CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs, then the Dons still have a lot to work on if they are to go deep in the postseason. Playing its third non-league contest since 605 League play began on Jan. 4, Cerritos couldn’t get much going in a 49-18 loss.

The game was closer in the first half than the final score may have indicated as the Dons trailed 10-4 after the first quarter, 16-9 with 1:46 left in the half and 22-10 less than a minute into the third quarter. But that’s when the wheels came off and the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to put the game away.

“This is one of those games where we just have to work through it and get through it and then get ready for practice on Monday, and then get ready for another big game on Tuesday,” said Cerritos head coach Marcus Chinen. 

After seeing Troy begin the game with five straight points, freshman Cameron Lacorte put the Dons on the board at the 3:39 mark. It would be another 80 seconds before the next score, which was a basket from sophomore Ambar Multani. But a 9-0 Troy run was the first sign that it would be a long game for Cerritos. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Dons turned the ball over 13 times in the first half and shot four of 21 from the field in that time. But they crashed the boards hard to the tune of 16 rebounds in the half and repeated that in the second half.

To say that Cerritos has played a tough schedule outside of league is an understatement. It lost to Division 1 Peninsula High to begin the season, went 0-4 against teams in its own division and split the two games played against teams from Division 1-1. And of the losses to some of the tougher competition, one was an 11-point setback to Yorba Linda High, one was an eight-point loss to El Dorado High and two were five-point losses to Cypress High and South Pasadena High, the latter in overtime. Those games prove that Cerritos can compete in the Division 2AA playoffs.

“We can,” said Chinen. “It’s a team and we have to learn how to close games out. We have to learn how to come back into it, or if we have a lead, try to maintain the lead or extend it. I think that’s something this team is not used to yet because they are younger.

“I do have some seniors on this team,” he continued. “But they’re the ones who are going to have to lead this team going into the playoffs. Tonight, we were missing a few of our seniors.”

It may not have made a big difference in the outcome against Troy, but it would have helped Cerritos had it played John Glenn High last Friday, then the Troy game ahead of the final two regular season games against Whitney High and Oxford Academy. Instead, the contest with Glenn was cancelled. 

“It’s kind of hard not getting a game in yesterday because we couldn’t even practice, because we were all ready to go [play], then the game was cancelled,” said Chinen. “It is tough for us. Even playing last night, then coming here might have helped us. But it was good to play this type of game because on Tuesday, it’s going to be a competitive game. We can’t overlook Whitney because they’re going to come at us and we’re going to go at them.”

Lacorte and Multani each led the Dons with four points while junior Denise Hizon and sophomore Kishan Saberon added three points each as Cerritos reached a season-low in points scored. Junior Mia Rivera grabbed nine rebounds and had three steals while Multani pitched in with half a dozen rebounds.

Cerritos would fall to second place Whitney 63-33 this past Tuesday to fall to 11-15 overall and 5-4 in the 605 League. The Dons were in the game through the first 11 minutes before Whitney went on a 14-4 run to lead 33-17 at the half. Then the Wildcats (15-12, 8-1) began the second half on an 11-0 run. Senior Kaitlyn Sugita and junior Mia Rivera each scored six points with the latter adding five rebounds and two assists to her game statistics. Cerritos closed out the regular season on Feb. 2 hosting Oxford Academy. Should Oxford Academy prevail, it would set up a third place tiebreaker game on Friday.

“We stress to them that we do have teams that we’re playing against that are in our division that we may see again,” said Chinen. “I said we could go anywhere. I have no idea what our playoff fate is. I have no idea.”

In other Cerritos winter sports news, the boys basketball team defeated Whitney 58-46 to improve to 12-15 overall and 7-2 in the 605 League, good enough for second place. Senior Dominic DelaCruz and junior Tobeanna Ozoagu each had 14 points as the Dons wrapped up the regular season on Feb. 2 against Oxford Academy. 

The boys soccer team tied Oxford Academy 0-0 this past Wednesday to end the season at 5-11-4, 4-4-2, barely missing the playoffs by four points in the standings while the girls soccer team, ranked second in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 poll, was 19-1-0, 7-0-0 heading into its final game of the season against second place Oxford Academy.

The boys wrestling team, ranked second in Division 6, lost to Bell Gardens High 45-31 in the semifinals of the dual meet championships last Saturday at Glenn. The Dons had a first round bye before eliminating Eisenhower High 64-15 in the quarterfinals.


The boys basketball team keeps rolling along notching its 13th straight win after beating Oxford Academy 66042 this past Tuesday. The Pioneers (20-7, 9-0), winners of a second straight 605 League championship, have won 23 straight league contests. 

The girls basketball team (3-21, 1-8) fell to Oxford Academy 50-9 in its lowest scoring performance of the season. Both basketball teams hosted Glenn on Feb. 2.

The boys soccer team, which had already wrapped up the 605 League title, tied Oxford Academy 1-1 this past Monday to go to 13-5-4, 8-0-1. The Pioneers have won five straight league titles, all in the 605 League.

The girls, who had been to the playoffs the last two seasons and three of the last four, also tied Oxford Academy to move its mark to 6-7-5, 1-3-3. The Pioneers will finish in fourth place. 


The boys basketball team, which had missed the postseason the past three seasons and the girls, who had been on a five-season drought, will be heading back to the playoffs. The Gladiators fell to Lynwood High 94-84 this past Tuesday to fall to 13-13, 5-4 in the Mid-Cities League, good enough for third place. Gahr ends the season hosting Norwalk High while the girls are snapping a five-season playoff drought and are on the verge of the program’s first league title since 1999. The Gladiators, tied for third in the 5AA poll, smashed Firebaugh High 61-16 this past Tuesday, improving to 20-6, 8-1 as they visited Bellflower High to end the regular season. The 20 wins are the most since the 2012-2013 team went 22-10 and advanced to the Division III-AA finals while the six losses are the fewest since going 21-6 during the 1997-1998 campaign. 

After the first round of league play, the boys soccer team was on target to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. But a late season slide has knocked the Gladiators to fifth place as they visited last place Dominguez High on Feb. 2. Gahr is sitting at 6-8-2, 3-4-2 and winless in its last four.

But, for the first time since 2020, the girls are heading back to the playoffs and for the first time since 2003, Gahr will capture a league title in girls soccer. The Gladiators have not allowed a goal in league action while sporting a 9-8-0, 9-0-0 record. Gahr hosted Bellflower on Feb. 2 with a chance to go to 10-0 in league play for the first time in at least 26 seasons.


Both basketball teams and both soccer teams, who all ended their regular seasons against Artesia High, will not advance to the playoffs. The boys basketball team was 11-15, 3-6, the girls were 5-17, 0-9, the boys soccer team was 6-8-4, 2-5-2 and the girls were winless in 16 games without scoring a goal. 

But, the boys wrestling team, ranked fourth in Division 6, went to the quarterfinals in last Saturday’s dual meet championships, falling to Schurr High 45-30. The Eagles had defeated Orange Vista High 74-6 and La Mirada High 53-25 prior to the semifinals. The girls wrestling team fell to fourth-ranked Marina High 72-6 in the first round of the Division 1 dual meet championships, held at Northview High.


The boys basketball team are another 20-win season from the area as the Matadores had no problems with former Suburban League arch-rival Mayfair High, 61-42, this past Tuesday. La Mirada (20-7, 6-1 in the Gateway League) needs to beat second place Downey High on Feb. 3 to win the league outright. The Mats are also the second-ranked team in Division 2A.

The girls basketball team has lost six of its last eight games and will finish the season in fourth place in the Mid-Cities League. La Mirada (9-12, 3-6) is on a three-game skid but hosted last place Firebaugh on Feb. 2.

Both soccer teams will be enjoying respective league titles in the first year of the new Suburban Valley Conference. The boys (9-3-3, 7-1-1) tied Firebaugh 0-0 this past Tuesday and has not lost in five games as they visited Bellflower in Mid-Cities League action on Feb. 2 while the girls, no stranger to winning league championships, were 12-3-3, 7-0-0 heading into their regular season finale against second place Warren High in the Gateway League. The team has allowed four goals in its last 12 games.

Before losing to Glenn, the boys wrestling team eased past AB Miller High 66-18 in the first round of the Division 6 dual meet championships.


When the boys basketball team entered Mid-Cities League action on Jan. 4, it knew it had to go 7-3 in order to finish in third place and make the playoffs. That won’t happen as the Lancers fell to 10-16, 3-5 after its 57-49 setback to Warren last Friday. Norwalk visited Gahr on Feb. 2 while the girls will end up in third place in the Mid-Cities League. The Lancers (16-10, 6-3) are going to the playoffs for the sixth straight season and 14th out of the last 16 seasons, but have yet to get to the quarterfinals. Norwalk visited first place Dominguez on Feb. 2.

If the boys soccer team wants to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005, it needed to beat Gateway League champion Warren on Feb. 2. The Lancers were sitting at 5-6-4, 2-3-3, a half a game behind idle Lynwood. But the girls are making history by going to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and the third time in school history. The Lancers (9-9-1, 6-3-0) blanked Dominguez 3-0 this past Tuesday and a win at Firebaugh on Feb. 2 will assure the program of its second ever winning regular season.

The girls wrestling team fell to third-ranked Hillcrest High 51-24 in the first round of the Division 1 dual meet championships last Saturday at Northview.


For the first time since 2018, the boys basketball team will not have a losing Olympic League record. The Valley Christian High has won four straight games, the last a 79-47 conquest over Whittier Christian High this past Tuesday, to improve to 17-9, 4-3. With a win at Village Christian High on Feb. 2, the Defenders would end up in a tie for second place and if last place Whittier Christian knocks off first place Maranatha High, there would be a three-way tie for first place.

The girls team, which at one point was 5-5, has one victory since and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2019. The Defenders (6-18, 1-6) lost to Whittier Christian 40-32 this past Tuesday. The girls also visited Village Christian on Feb. 2.

The boys soccer team will be making its 15th straight trip to the playoffs while the girls are enjoying their seventh straight Olympic League title. The boys blanked Whittier Christian 3-0 this past Monday to improve to 9-7-4, 5-1-1 and are in second place. The girls, whose last league loss was on Feb. 5, 2016 against Maranatha, defeated Whittier Christian 6-1 this past Monday for their 14th straight win over the Heralds. V.C. is 16-4-1, 7-0-0 as it faced Village Christian this past Wednesday, going for the program’s 13th season in the past 26 without a loss in league action.


For the first time since 2015, the boys basketball team will be extending its season as the Wildcats have a 17-8 overall mark and is ranked seventh in Division 5AA. Whitney is in third place with a 4-5 mark as it hosted Pioneer High on Feb. 2. A loss to the last place Titans and a win by Oxford Academy will for a third place tiebreaker game on Friday. 

The girls (15-12, 8-1) will be playing for first place and a win over Pioneer will give the ‘Cats a share of their second straight league title. 

The boys soccer team ended its season at 0-17-1, 0-10-0 after falling to Pioneer this past Wednesday.