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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW Cerritos grounded by Golden Hawks early, ousted in quarterfinals

By Loren Kopff

PLACENTIA-Last Saturday night, Cerritos girls basketball head coach Arial Adams admitted her team didn’t expect to get to the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division II-A quarterfinals. Even though the Lady Dons finished in second place of the Suburban League and reached the 20-victory plateau for just the second time this century, the players were still unsure of their accomplishments.

In the first four minutes of its 72-46 loss to second ranked El Dorado, Cerritos looked like a team that indeed had never been to the playoffs. The Lady Dons fell behind 14-0, took only five shots from the field during that time and didn’t get their first rebound until senior Tori Mura grabbed one after a missed free throw with 4:12 left in the stanza.

On the other hand, the Golden Hawks looked like a well-experienced playoff team, connecting on six of their first eight shots from the field thanks to the tandem of Jaylin Jones and Brooke Salas, each scoring half a dozen points before Cerritos notched its first points.

“We just came out flat,” Adams said. “When we were doing those things and making those mistakes, am I surprised? No. I’m not surprised because that’s what we’ve been doing. I think it just comes down to this is their first trip to the big show. As much as we try to prepare them in practice and do all the little things, they just had to be here [before] in order to really understand the level of play at this level.”

Back to back three-pointers from freshman Cailey Vitug, the first coming at the 3:45 mark finally got Cerritos going and her final basket of the game with 77 seconds left in the first quarter brought Cerritos to within five points. But that’s as far as the Lady Dons would get.

The shooting slump would continue in the second quarter for Cerritos, which went two of 14 from the field and picked up one defensive rebound. El Dorado would reel off the final 10 points of the quarter to lead 37-21 at the break. The 16 points would mark the largest halftime deficit of the season, prompting Adams to change her locker room speech to the team.

“This time it was about playing smart defense, finding the two key players and boxing out,” Adams said. “It was a lot more about composure rather than about firing them up. I was just trying to get them back in the game”

Seventh ranked Cerritos continued to struggle from the field in the third quarter, scoring just nine points and when Deanna Fink completed a three-point play nearly two minutes into the fourth quarter, El Dorado had its biggest lead of the game at 66-32. All five El Dorado starters scored all but two points, led by Brooke Salas’ 27 points and Jones’ 22 points.

Junior Taylor Hirata led Cerritos with 12 points off of four three-pointers while sophomore Tatiana Fominyam added 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The Lady Dons finished 21-6, clearly their best season since the 1998-1999 squad went 22-8. Cerritos will again be a heavy favorite to win the league next season with Hirata and junior Alyssa Movchan returning as starters along with freshman Ioefoma Okoki. Fominyam and Vitug and junior Kayla Katsuda are other key components, among others, that will be a force to reckon with next season.

“It’s a little bit better,” Adams said of this past season. “I thought we had a chance of being a good team. I’m completely proud. To take this group of girls with little experience and bring them together as a team and go this far, I’m very, very proud. I think we just laid the foundation. Now we’ve set the bar, so I feel it’s about building a program.”

BOYS SOCCER

For the second time in three seasons, Oak Hills ended Artesia’s season in the Division IV quarterfinals. The third ranked Bulldogs, who entered last Thursday’s contest with a 27-0-2 record, got a goal from Mario Barboza five minutes into the second half off a corner kick from Jose Nuno and outlasted the Pioneers 3-1. Artesia, which had two shots on goal in the second half, ends its season at 15-8-6.

“It’s been like that all year,” said Artesia head coach Rudy Magallon. “We’re young at certain positions. We made a run at playing defense and we made mistakes that we shouldn’t have done.

“They have a lot of seniors and they have a lot of experience,” he continued. “Since their existence, they’ve been playing deep into the playoffs.”

Oak Hills got on the board eight minutes into the contest on a Nuno goal. Artesia wouldn’t get its first shot until the 21st minute when senior forward Eduardo Lopez was denied by Bradley Kaufer. Five minutes later, junior midfielder Miguel Razo sent a free kick to freshman midfielder Francisco Sierra. But his header went to the right of the post.

The Pioneers would tie the game in the 29th minute when senior midfielder Ari Claro took a free kick near the corner flag after an Oak Hills defender was called for obstruction. Claro’s long lob went to freshman forward Jorge Pantoja, whose shot was tipped up by Kaufer which inadvertently went behind the goalkeeper.

“We started knocking the ball around and started playing our game,” Magallon said. “But sometimes it’s hard when you’re young, it’s just hard to keep up the momentum. We don’t have true forwards. Even the kids who are playing on top are midfielders.”

The last Oak Hills goal came three minutes into stoppage time as Nuno got loose on a breakaway. As inexperienced as the Pioneers were in terms of varsity time, they will graduate 11 of its 21 players but return over 60 percent of is scoring attack, plus its two goalkeepers.

“We’ll be back at it,” Magallon said. “We’ll compete. I don’t know to what level until we have our team in our presence. We’re going to work hard and bring it back.”

In other boys soccer action, Valley Christian was blanked by St. Margaret’s 3-0 in a Division VI semifinal game this past Tuesday night. The Crusaders, who had lost to St. Margaret’s 1-0 on Dec. 20, wrap up their season at 15-9-1 after winning two of their first eight games of the season.

SOFTBALL

The much anticipated Cerritos-Gahr doubleheader scheduled for this past Tuesday has been rescheduled for Mar. 25. The games were cancelled because of poor field conditions as a result of last weekend’s rain.

 

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