Gardena wins first Marine match over Washington

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TRAFFIC JAM—Gardena High's Clinton Releford attempts a shot despite heavy pressure in last Friday's Marine League boys' basketball game against Carson. The Colts held off the Panthers 60-57. Gardena hosts Narbonne in league play Friday at 7 p.m. Photo by Joe Snyder

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

Gardena High’s boys’ soccer team picked up its first Marine League victory by edging Washington 4-3 last Friday at Gardena.

The Panthers, who are 1-3-1 in league and 6-4-2 overall, were led by junior sweeper Justin Ortega who scored three goals, two of them on penalty kicks. Junior midfielder-defender Christian Rodriguez scored the other goal off an assist from forward Kenneth Gutierrez.

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

Gardena High’s boys’ soccer team picked up its first Marine League victory by edging Washington 4-3 last Friday at Gardena.

The Panthers, who are 1-3-1 in league and 6-4-2 overall, were led by junior sweeper Justin Ortega who scored three goals, two of them on penalty kicks. Junior midfielder-defender Christian Rodriguez scored the other goal off an assist from forward Kenneth Gutierrez.

“I’m glad of the team,” Gardena first year head coach Jesus Rangel said. “The kids fought and made an excellent come back. This is a very young team. I’m putting a lot of faith on the players.”

Rangel takes over from long time head mentor Martin Mira, who is currently Gardena High’s athletic director. Last season, Rangel was the Panthers’ head junior varsity coach.

At Banning on Jan. 25, the Pilots, who are one of the top ranked squads in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division II, overwhelmed Gardena 6-0.

Gardena visited San Pedro in a makeup game from an earlier rainout last Monday. The Panthers, then, were at Carson on Wednesday and they are at Narbonne for a 4 p.m. Marine encounter on Friday.  Gardena hosts San Pedro, which tied host Banning 1-1 in a key league match on Friday, on Monday at 4 p.m. before closing Marine action at home against the powerful Pilots next Wednesday at the same time.

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Gardena Boys’ Basketball

Gardena falls short of Carson

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

A bad second quarter proved pivotal for Gardena High’s boys’ basketball team as it fell short of Carson 60-57 in a Marine League game last Friday at Gardena.

The Panthers held a 15-13 edge after the first quarter but ran into a cold shooting second period that saw the Colts outscore Gardena 16-7. That enabled Carson, which improved to 15-3 overall and 5-2 in league, to grab a 29-22 halftime lead.

The Colts led by as many as 11 points on a few occasions but the Panthers, who are 3-4 in league and 11-10 for the season, whittled away at Carson’s lead. Gardena finally caught the Colts with a 43-43 tie on a basket by Keondre Brown with 6:23 left in the game.

Carson, however, went on and pulled ahead by as many as seven points (57-50) on Eddie Murrillo’s basket with 1:22 remaining.

The Panthers, however, would not quit. A basket off a rebound from Brown cut the Colts’ lead to 59-57 with 12 seconds to go. With five seconds remaining, O’ Nel Foster was fouled and he made one of two free throws to up Carson’s lead to three points. Gardena attempted a desperate three-pointer to send the game into overtime but fell off line.

“We weren’t very smart,” Gardena head coach Ernie Carr said. “That was the game.”

Dominique Alexander led the Panthers with a game-high 23 points. Clinton Releford added 10 points. Khalif Pollard and Brown chipped in seven and six points, in order.

Carson was led by Kylan Wallace with 16 points. Nel Foster contributed 10 points and Demoni Sanchez finished with eight.

At Washington on Jan. 25, the Generals topped Gardena 83-75, despite 25 points from Alexander.

The Panthers visited King-Drew Medical Magnet High in South Los Angeles on Wednesday. Gardena is at home against front running Narbonne, a strong contender for the CIF-L.A. City Section Open Division crown, Friday at 7 p.m. The Panthers are at San Pedro for a 5:30 p.m. Marine contest next Monday and host Banning next Wednesday at the same time.

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Serra Boys’ Basketball

Serra finishes January at 10-1 after three wins

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

After a slow start, Serra High’s boys’ basketball team enjoyed a much more successful January by finishing the month at 10-1 after three victories, two in the Del Rey League and one non-league contest in the Rolling Hills Prep State Showcase on Saturday at Cerritos College.

At Serra on Jan. 23, the Cavaliers defeated rival St. Bernard from Playa del Rey 69-61. Last Friday at Cathedral in Los Angeles, the Cavaliers rolled over the Phantoms 85-62. Serra, then, took on always tough Loyola in the Rolling Hills Prep (formerly Fairfax) State Showcase at Cerritos College and toppled the Cubs 66-59.

With the wins, Serra improved to 4-1 in the Del Rey League and 13-10 overall and that comes after a 2-9 start that stemmed from chaotic situations as a result of the sudden death of recent head coach Dwan Hurt on Nov. 25. As well as the 10-1 January, with their only loss to nationally ranked Bishop Montgomery from Torrance, the Cavaliers won 11 of their last 12 games that started with winning their last game of the Visit Mesa Classic over Southpoint Catholic from Tucson on Dec. 30 in Mesa, Arizona.

Against Cathedral, the Cavaliers had a commanding lead throughout most of the contest and had five players score in double figures. Leading Serra was E.J. Jackson with 19 points. Kobe Smith and Ray Knight, Jr. each had 15 points. Terence Mitchell put in 14 points and Doctor Bradley tallied 10.

Serra led by as many as 35 points before clearing the bench in the fourth quarter.

Against St. Bernard, Serra used a big fourth quarter to pull away from the Vikings. After St. Bernard tied the game on a three-point basket from Nick Bowden, the Cavaliers, behind Smith and Knight, went on an 11-1 run over the next three minutes to take the lead for good. Smith capped the run with a driving left handed layup that gave Serra a 57-47 lead. That win gave the Cavaliers sold possession of second place in league, behind powerful Bishop Montgomery. Smith sparked Serra with a game-high 23 points, including four three-pointers. Knight totaled 18 points including two three’s.

St. Bernard, which is 1-4 in league, was led by Mook Harris with 22 points that included four three-pointers.

The wins set the stage for a second showdown at home against the rival Knights on Wednesday. Bishop Montgomery is dominating the rest of the league, including routing the Cavaliers 68-31 on Jan. 13 at Bishop Montgomery. The Knights, in fact, won a large majority of their games by 20 or more points including rolling over CIF-L.A. City Section power Fairfax 79-55 in the Rolling Hills Prep State Showcase last Saturday. Bishop Montgomery is 20-2 overall with its only losses to Northern California power Oakland Bishop O’ Dowd, due to being without key junior standout David Singleton, and United States national power Monteverde Academy from Florida in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic game on Jan. 14 in Massachusetts. Monteverde is currently sixth in the nation by USA Today.

Serra, then, hosts Cantwell-Sacred Heart from Montebello Friday at 7 p.m. before closing league at St. Bernard next Wednesday at the same time.

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Serra Girls’ Basketball

Lady Cavaliers overcome Bishop Montgomery

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

Serra High’s girls’ basketball team continues its unbeaten record in the Del Rey League at 5-0 after coming from behind to top host Bishop Montgomery 66-58 on Jan. 24 in Torrance.

The Knights began by stunning the cold shooting Cavaliers with a 20-11 lead after the first quarter. Serra, though, got things going. Behind sophomore Alexis Tucker, Serra proceeded to go on a 17-1 run to take a 30-23 lead. The Knights scored the final five points of the first half as the Cavaliers entered halftime with a 30-28 edge.

Although the game stayed close most of the way, the Cavaliers outscored Bishop Montgomery in each of the final two quarters and put the game away behind key baskets and free throws by Tucker and Rachel Duru.

“What we tried to do was simply stay in front of her and make her shoot over our outstretched hands,” Serra head coach McKenzie Hadley said of Bishop Montgomery’s top player Kayla Padilla. “We made some stops. We took it one possession at a time.”

For Serra, Tucker and Duru proved dominant combining for 45 points and 38 rebounds. Tucker led the Cavaliers with game-highs 27 points and 20 rebounds. She scored 12 of those points in the fourth quarter. Duru added 18 points and 18 rebounds.

“We needed to push and attack the basket,” Tucker said. “We needed to make rebounds and put the defensive pressure on them. This was a huge win for us. We hope to come back and beat them again, at our place.”

Padilla led the Knights with 22 points, 15 of those in the first half.

“We knew that we had to be aggressive,” Padilla said. “Their intensity and athleticism dictated our offense. Next time, we hope to take our weaknesses and improve when we play at Serra.”

Raniyah Reynolds chipped in 13 points for Bishop Montgomery (15-7, 4-1).

The Knights are head coached by former Bishop Montgomery all-American, UCLA and Women’s National Basketball Association standout Noelle Quinn, who graduated from Bishop Montgomery in 2003. Quinn played much of her WNBA with the Minnesota Lynx, but also spent some time with the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm.

At Serra last Thursday, the Cavaliers improved to 17-6 overall and 5-0 in league with a 75-60 home win over St. Anthony from Long Beach.

Alexis Tucker sparked Serra with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Cheyenne Givens put in 14 points. Camille Hailey tallied 12 points and seven rebounds. Ivori Scott hauled down 11 rebounds.

The Cavaliers visited St. Paul in Santa Fe Springs last Tuesday. Serra is at Cantwell-Sacred Heart in Montebello next Tuesday at 7 p.m. before closing league and the regular season at home against the Knights next Thursday at 5 p.m.

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