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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Early turnovers cost Norwalk boys basketball chance to gain first winning mark of season

Januery 4, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

COSTA MESA-The Norwalk High boys basketball team has been hovering around the .500 mark all season and at one point, was four games under that mark. But the Lancers have been on fire as of late, winning four straight games including their two pool play games of the Estancia Winter Classic.

They had a chance to play for the championship game of the tournament last Friday, but a slew of turnovers, especially in the first half, spelled doom for Norwalk, which was on the short end of a 55-39 decision to Valencia High. It would rebound the next night to edge Estancia High 50-48 to reach the .500 mark for the fourth time this season.

“I think their intensity picked up, especially on the glass and we just couldn’t take care of the basketball anymore,” said Norwalk head coach Brent Campanelli of Valencia. “In that second quarter specifically, I know we turned it over seven times. [Valencia] plays a really fast, aggressive style and I think we kind of had control of the pace early. Then they sort of woke up a little bit and changed it. That equates to 12 turnovers in the first half.”

The first quarter would see five changes, the last coming with 50.1 seconds left as two free throws from Adam Alkilani as the Tigers took the lead for good at 12-11. That would be the beginning of an 11-0 run that lasted until junior Andruw Castellanos began a 6-0 run all by himself. But just when Norwalk thought it was coming back into the contest, Valencia ended the half on a 15-2 run to lead by 17 at the break. While the Tigers attempted 17 shots just in the second quarter alone, the Lancers were eight of 17 from the field in the first half and took 19 shots in the second half.

“For them to get 17 shots in the second quarter, that’s two shots a minute and it’s going to be very hard for us to win,” said Campanelli. “I thought we had a good game plan and I thought we were playing well in the first quarter, to be honest. We were getting good looks and taking care of the ball. Whether you make a shot or miss a shot, you can get set. And when we were turning it over, it was hard for us to get set.”

Valencia began the second half scoring 86 seconds in before Norwalk scored the next six points to trail 38-25. That would be the closest the Lancers would get the rest of the way, even though the second half scoring favored Norwalk 20-19. Senior Robert Salazar led the Lancers with 13 points and seven rebounds while Castellanos added eight points and three boards. 

Norwalk began Mid-Cities League play this past Wednesday at Gahr High and fell to the Gladiators 62-34. Senior Seyharmony Somchan, a transfer from John Glenn High, came off the bench to score a team-high 11 points, all in the first half. Sophomore Austin Woon paced the Gladiators with 15 points while junior Uchenna Okoli added 11 points. The Lancers face Bellflower High on Friday and Paramount High on Wednesday. 

“If you would have told me three weeks ago we would be 9-9 going into league, I would have been a little skeptical,” said Campanelli. “I’m really proud of the way we’re playing lately, and we have an opportunity to get that thing leveled and really make a run. 

The other seven area schools began their quest for a basketball or soccer league title this past Wednesday and for some, it starts on Friday. Here is what’s on tap for the upcoming week.

605 LEAGUE

Girls soccer plays at the opposite site as boys and girls basketball and boys soccer for league games. Whitney High does not field a girls soccer team.

The Artesia High boys basketball team is 8-5, girls basketball is 8-6, boys soccer is 8-0-2 and girls soccer is 9-1-1. The Pioneers visited Glenn this past Wednesday and will be at Cerritos High on Friday and Whitney on Tuesday. In addition, the boys soccer team hosts Marquez High on Monday.

The Cerritos boys basketball team is 7-10, girls basketball is 8-8, boys soccer is 2-7-0 and girls soccer is 5-4-1. The Dons went to Oxford Academy this past Wednesday and will travel to Pioneer High on Tuesday.

The Glenn boys basketball team is 9-5, girls basketball is 2-9, boys soccer is 5-6-1 and girls soccer is 1-6-1. The Eagles will visit Whitney on Friday and Oxford Academy on Tuesday. The boys basketball team will also host PAL Academy on Wednesday.

The Whitney boys basketball team is 9-6, girls basketball is 10-5 and boys soccer is 0-12, including a 5-0 loss to Pioneer this past Tuesday. The basketball teams went to Pioneer this past Wednesday. In addition, the girls basketball team will face Bishop Amat High on Saturday.

GATEWAY LEAGUE

The Gahr girls soccer team is 6-6-1 and will host Warren High and La Mirada High on Friday and Tuesday respectively before going to Downey High on Thursday.

The La Mirada boys basketball team is 11-7 and hosted Lynwood High this past Wednesday. The Matadores will go to Mayfair High on Friday before hosting Rancho Cucamonga High on Saturday while the girls soccer team is 2-6-3, visited Warren this past Wednesday and will be home to Mayfair on Friday.

MID-CITIES LEAGUE

The Norwalk basketball teams will be on the road the entire season while their new gymnasium is being built.

The Gahr boys basketball team is 11-6 and goes to Firebaugh High on Friday and Warren on Wednesday. The Gahr boys soccer team is 3-7-3 and hosted Norwalk this past Wednesday. The Gladiators will travel to Firebaugh on Friday and Dominguez High on Tuesday before hosting Bellflower on Thursday.

The La Mirada’s boys soccer team is 4-5-1, hosted Warren this past Wednesday, will travel to Paramount on Friday and entertains Lynwood on Tuesday.

The Norwalk girls basketball team is 6-11 as the Lancers went to Dominguez this past Wednesday, will face Bellflower on Friday and Mayfair on Wednesday while the boys soccer team is 0-7-2 and will host Bellflower on Friday before visiting Mayfair on Tuesday and Dominguez on Thursday. The Norwalk girls soccer team is 1-6-1 and after hosting Lynwood this past Wednesday, will travel to Bellflower on Friday and host Paramount and Dominguez on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

OLYMPIC LEAGUE

The Valley Christian High boys basketball team fell to Heritage Christian High 79-61 this past Tuesday in the league opener to fall to 10-7 while the girls basketball team dropped to 7-12 after a 59-21 loss to Heritage Christian. However, both soccer teams defeated Heritage Christian with the boys (3-9-2) winning 7-2 and the girls (6-5-1) posting an 11-0 decision. The Defenders will face Maranatha High on Friday with the boys soccer team hosting the Minutemen and the other varsity teams travelling. On Tuesday, V.C. will host Whittier Christian High with the boys soccer team on the road. In addition, the boys basketball team visited Loyola High this past Wednesday and will take part in the Take Flight Challenge on Saturday.