NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Artesia boys basketball off to a hot start, wins Garden Grove Tournament

By Loren Kopff

Fresh off of winning the Garden Grove Tournament, the Artesia boys basketball team opened up its own tournament with a 50-42 win over La Serna this past Tuesday night. After knocking off South East 49-21 the next night, the Pioneers improved to 6-0, their best start to a season since winning the first 15 games of the 2006-2007 campaign.

Artesia never trailed against La Serna but nearly blew a 16-point lead in the second half as the Lancers outscored Artesia 22-7 in the third quarter. In fact, Artesia went four of 21 from the field in the second half but converted five of eight free throws in the final 4:52 to preserve the win.

Junior Dontae Smith led Artesia with 13 points while seniors Jon Campbell and Brandon Paris each added 11 points. Campbell grabbed nine rebounds while Smith had eight boards, three assists and two steals and Paris chipped in with seven rebounds. The Pioneers will wrap up the tournament on Saturday.

In other boys basketball action, the annual City of Cerritos tussle takes place tonight when Cerritos hosts Gahr. The Dons are coming off a 1-3 performance in the Cerritos-Gahr Tournament, defeating Bell 56-47 last Saturday while Gahr has lost two straight after winning the first two of the tournament.

One of the highlights of the tournament came in Gahr’s 91-62 win over Bell last Wednesday when senior Malachi Hoosein scored a career-high 50 points.

After winning one game all of last season, John Glenn went 3-1 in the El Monte Tournament and visited El Monte on Dec. 12. The Eagles will play Salesian on Monday in the Pioneer Tournament, then visit Whitney on Tuesday before resuming action in the Pioneer Tournament on Thursday.

Norwalk opened the season by winning two of five games in the Godinez Tournament, then fell to Fountain Valley 66-63 this past Tuesday night in the Valley Christian Tournament. The Lancers conclude play in the V.C. Tournament on Saturday, then host Alhambra on Monday.

Valley Christian played a tight game with Bellflower this past Tuesday before falling 50-47 in the final minute. The Crusaders (2-1) rallied from seven points midway through the third quarter to take a three-point lead on sophomore Vaj Rice’s basket with 1:51 left to play. But the Buccaneers went on a 5-0 run over the final 59.2 seconds. Sophomore Stedmon Bryant led V.C. with 13 points while Rice added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Upon conclusion of its own tournament, V.C. will play Oxford Academy on Monday to open up the Oxford Academy Tournament.

Whitney went 2-2 in the Garden Grove Tournament and hosted Chadwick this past Wednesday. The Wildcats will visit Estancia tonight and host John Glenn on Tuesday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Artesia lost the final four games of the Oxford Academy Tournament plus a non league contest to Arroyo after winning its first game of the season against Oxford Academy. The Pioneers will participate in the Valley Christian Tournament next week with pool play games against Mayfield, Mayfair and Garden Grove.

Cerritos won four of its first six games including a 3-1 performance in the La Habra Tournament. The only loss came in the championship game last Friday against Norco. The Lady Dons hosted California on Dec. 12 and will be off until Dec. 26 when they play in the Gahr Winter Classic.

Speaking of Gahr, the Gladiators began this week at 4-2 after falling to Fairmont Prep 62-46 in the championship game of the Fairmont Prep Tournament. The Gladiators slammed Bassett 66-26 in the first round of the John Glenn-Norwalk Tournament this past Wednesday. Gahr senior Ra’vyn Bowser scored a game-high 21 points while senior Oluoma Okaro had a career-high 14 points against Bassett.

John Glenn has won two of its first seven games and fell to Santa Fe 85-33 this past Wednesday. Senior Myra Gomez scored 15 points for the Lady Eagles.

Valley Christian (1-3) dropped its first round game of the Glenn-Norwalk Tournament, a 56-30 setback to St. Paul this past Wednesday.

Whitney is also off to a strong start, winning three of four games in the Downey Tournament, then easily getting past Whittier Christian 57-27 this past Wednesday in the Glenn-Norwalk Tournament. Senior Rachel Nagel posted a game-high 24 points against the Heralds.

FOOTBALL

John Glenn hired former Lakewood head coach Vince Lobendahn last Friday to become the school’s eighth head coach in the past 15 seasons. He replaces interim head coach Joaquin Aguilar, who coached the final five games this past season.

Lobendahn, who has taught at Glenn for 15 years as well as coached at several places for that same amount of time, was the Glenn freshman coach in 2004. He was the offensive coordinator at Cerritos College after being Lakewood’s head coach, where the Lancers advanced to the playoffs twice.

Lobendahn has also played football at Glendale Community College, the University of Utah, and the Albany Firebirds and St. Louis Stampede of the Arena Football League. His son, Toa, is one of the top offensive linemen and will be playing at the University of Southern California next fall.

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