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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Pool play action wraps up in Valley Christian Girls Varsity Basketball Tournament

By Loren Kopff


With a chance to win their respective pools and potentially have a chance to face each other in either the championship game, or at worst, the third place game, the Valley Christian and Whitney girls basketball came up short in their second games of the 38th annual Valley Christian Tournament. The host school couldn’t find its shooting touch in the second half and was blasted by Crescenta Valley 42-14 this past Tuesday evening while Whitney played catch up throughout its second half and was five points off in a 36-31 setback to Bellflower.

Although there wasn’t much scoring in the first half, V.C. was plagued with turnovers against Crescenta Valley. Despite holding a 12-11 lead at the break, thanks to five points each from senior Kate Vande Vegte and junior Katy Feller, the Lady Crusaders turned the ball over 16 times and had as many rebounds.

It would go from bad to worse in the second half as the hosts were shut out in the third quarter as the Falcons scored 17 points with 13 coming off of turnovers. The lone points for V.C. in the second half came with 6:46 left in the game and came via two free throws from Feller.

In all, V.C. (5-3) turned the ball over 36 times and senior Alex Fenderson had eight rebounds. V.C. opened the tournament with a 50-34 win over Workman this past Monday and will play Kennedy tonight for a chance to finish as high as fifth place.

Prior to the V.C. game, Whitney was mired in a close tussle with the Buccaneers, never trailing by more than five points in the first half. In fact, the Lady Wildcats scored three straight baskets early in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead, just the second time it led in the game.

But Bellflower opened the second half on a 7-2 run in the first three minutes and held on. Junior Annika Brandes led the Lady Wildcats with nine points while seniors Anshika Bagla and Jihee Lee and sophomore Nicole Lee all added half a dozen points. Nicole Lee also had 13 rebounds and six steals. As a team, Whitney had 26 rebounds, but also had 26 turnovers.

Whitney (4-4) kicked off the tournament with a 39-25 win over Mayfield this past Monday behind 14 points from junior Chloe Olvera and 10 more from Nicole Lee. Just like the Lady Crusaders, the Lady Wildcats will have a playoff game tonight against Mayfair at Whitney for a chance to play for fifth place on Saturday.

Also in the tournament, Artesia found scoring to be at a premium as it lost to Kennedy 51-14 this past Monday and Peninsula 47-8 the next day. In the first game, senior Keina Harris and junior Zharia Simmons each scored six points as the Pioneers, who haven’t scored more than 33 points in any game this season, dropped to 1-6. Artesia will face Cabrillo tonight following Whitney’s game.


While the V.C. girls basketball team was hosting its tournament, the boys team was enjoying one of its finest starts to any season as the Crusaders began round robin action in the Oxford Academy Tournament. V.C. knocked off Aliso Niguel this past Tuesday and had no problems with Bishop Amat, 70-49, this past Wednesday to remain undefeated in eight games thus far. This is the best start to a season for the Crusaders since opening the 2007-2008 season at 5-0. The Crusaders went on to win the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV-A championship and finished at 27-4. V.C. played Cypress on Dec. 18 and will meet with Newport Harbor today before concluding the tournament on Saturday.

Gahr continued to stay red hot by winning the first two games of the North Orange County Championships, first defeating Bell Gardens 92-59 this past Tuesday, then outlasting Claremont 106-91 this past Wednesday. Through the first seven games this season, all victories, Gahr has scored over 90 points four times and is averaging 89.4 points a game. The Gladiators had a playoff game against La Mirada on Dec. 18 and could play for the tournament championship at 7:30 on Saturday night at Sonora High.

Cerritos was also in the same tournament and was nipped by Lakewood 73-70 this past Wednesday night. The Dons (4-3), who defeated JSerra 77-72 this past Tuesday, met with Diamond Bar on Dec. 18. The Dons could finish as high as ninth place in the 20-team event.

Elsewhere, Artesia won its first two pool play games of the Downey Calvary Chapel Tournament so far, knocking off Ganesha 57-39 this past Monday before edging Middle College Prep 47-46 the next day. The Pioneers (6-4), who won this tournament last season, faced McAuliffe on Dec. 18.


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