Serra ousts Westchester, Canyon Springs—advances to semis; other sports for March 19

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Serra ousts Westchester, Canyon Springs; advances to semis

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

After missing the cut for the prestigious Southern California Regional Open Division playoffs due to going 2-2 in the Southern Section Open Division including losing the semifinal at Oaks Christian on March 4, Serra High’s girls’ basketball team is in the Division I semifinals after home wins over Westchester and Canyon Springs from Moreno Valley last week.

Serra ousts Westchester, Canyon Springs; advances to semis

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

After missing the cut for the prestigious Southern California Regional Open Division playoffs due to going 2-2 in the Southern Section Open Division including losing the semifinal at Oaks Christian on March 4, Serra High’s girls’ basketball team is in the Division I semifinals after home wins over Westchester and Canyon Springs from Moreno Valley last week.

On March 11, the Lady Cavaliers routed CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I champion Westchester 76-43. Also at Serra last Saturday, the Cavaliers had it a little tougher but managed to put away Canyon Springs 60-50.

Serra led Canyon Springs throughout virtually the entire game, although Canyon Springs made it close on several occasions. The Cavaliers took a 14-8 lead after the first quarter, then led by as many as 12 points in the first half before their lead was cut to two points (28-26) at halftime.

The second half was similar as the Cavaliers led by as much as 14 points before Canyon Springs made it close. Serra, though, was able to make clutch baskets and free throws to put the regional quarterfinal game away.

“We did a great job shooting free throws,” Serra head coach McKenzie Hadley said. “It was a very good team effort.”

The Cavaliers (21-10) were led by Briana Johnson with 21 points but it was Brijaye Brackett that Hadley felt had the best game. Brackett finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

In the opener, Westchester was virtually no match for Serra. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 19-9 first quarter lead. In the second period, the Comets got as close as six points but the Cavaliers pulled out to a 32-19 halftime lead.

Serra turned the game into a rout in the second half, outscoring Westchester 44-24.

Nautica Morrow led the Cavaliers with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Proving the depth of Serra, Morrow was the only Cavalier to score in double figures as 12 different players scored. Nathanaelle Dambo and Camille Hailey each added nine points.

The Comets were led by Erianna Gowdy and Candice Evans with 11 points each.

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Fernandezees hurls one-hitter as Serra tops Oaks Christian

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

Serra High’s baseball team improved to 4-1 by opening the Harvard-Westlake Tournament with a 2-1 win over Oaks Christian from Westlake Village last Saturday at Serra.

The Cavaliers had a very good performance from sophomore pitcher Cardinal Fernandezees. Fernandezees pitched a complete game one-hitter with three strikeouts. He allowed one unearned run.

Oaks Christian pitcher Jack Aldridge, who is also a sophomore, had a strong game allowing five hits but Serra was able to scratch its two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Morgan Lomax tripled then scored on a sacrifice hit by Adrian Morales. Kennedy Guillen singled home Tom Bothwell giving the Cavaliers a 2-0 lead.

The Lions scored in the top of the fifth but Fernandezees was able to finish the complete game victory.

“I’m very confident with Fernandezees,” Serra head coach Wilmer Aaron said. “He has good stuff and a great attitude. He’s a fierce competitor.”

Lomax, a returning all-CIF Southern Section Division III player, was 2-for-3 with a single and triple and one run. Mateo Brambila went 2-for-3 with two singles.

“Lomax is a talented and fierce base-runner,” Aaron said. “He runs a lot on his own.”

Aaron is confident with Serra’s overall pitching staff.

“I’m very proud the way we played (against Oaks Christian),” Aaron said. “They’re a very physical team. This is a big win for us.”

The Cavaliers visited Warren High in Downey in a non-league game last Tuesday. Serra will begin the Del Rey League at St. Paul in Santa Fe Springs next Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.

The Cavaliers will be in the tough league that includes last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division III champion La Puente Bishop Amat, who Serra tied for the league title with in 2014.

The Cavaliers host the Lancers on March 27.

 

Despite the lopsided loss, Westchester had seven three-point baskets, including three by Gowdy (all in the second half) and two each from Evans and Heyavin Johnson.

The wins put Serra in the semifinals at No. 2 seed Vista Murrieta last Tuesday. McKenzie knows it will be a big challenge. The Cavaliers already met Vista in the fifth place final game of the Redondo Battle at the Beach Tournament with Vista winning 50-45 in early December.

Vista is led by highly recruited Division I college guard-forward Jalen Brown, who sources say is about to commit to NCAA power University of Connecticut.

“We’ll have to come in focused,” Hadley said. “We hope to do better (than the last time Serra played Vista). If we continue to play good with a lot of energy and good effort, we’ll be in good shape.”

The Cavaliers, who are seeded third, hope they can knock off Vista for a spot in Saturday’s regional Division I championship game against the winner’s of Tuesday’s other semifinal between top seed Ventura and San Bernardino Cajon at the Cal State Long Beach Pyramid beginning at 2 p.m.

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La Mirada ends Gardena’s season

By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

After finishing in second place behind Narbonne in the Marine League, Gardena High’s boys’ basketball team was placed as the last seed in the CIF-Los Angeles City Open Division where it visited top ranked Fairfax in the first round on Feb. 21.

The Panthers suffered a pair of lopsided losses to the Lions 65-41, then were eliminated by Marine League foe and No. 4 seed Narbonne 62-43 on Feb. 27 at Narbonne.

Gardena was in Division II through the regular season but its overall City ranking put the Panthers in the Open Division.

Gardena was put to Division II in the Southern California Regional playoffs where it was seeded 10th and playing at No. 7 La Mirada. La Mirada, which was the top seed in the CIF-Southern Section Division IIA playoffs before falling to eventual division champion Compton in the semifinals on March 3, finished off the Panthers 65-48 on March 11.

Like in the L.A. City playoff games, Gardena kept it close for awhile. The Panthers trailed 20-16 after the first quarter only to see La Mirada, which already reached the semifinals with a 93-73 rout of Southern Section Division IIAA champion Anaheim Canyon in the quarterfinals last Saturday at Canyon (the playoffs’ second seed behind No. 1 Carlsbad La Costa Canyon), pull away from the second period on. La Mirada led 37-26 at halftime and 53-34 after three quarters.

Gardena, which ended its season at 21-10, was led by Michael Thompson with 17 points and Christian Carating with 11.

La Mirada, meanwhile, visited Compton in the regional semifinals last Tuesday for a spot against either Lawndale, which blew a 28-point third quarter lead in a 103-98 double overtime loss to Canyon in the Division IIAA championship game on March 6 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, or La Costa Canyon Saturday at noon at the Cal State Long Beach Pyramid.

Gardena baseballers get off to good start: Gardena High’s baseball team started this season at 3-0 with easy road wins over Roybal Learning Center, Rancho Dominguez and Fremont.

At Roybal in Downtown Los Angeles, the Panthers won 11-0. At Rancho Dominguez in Long Beach, Gardena rolled over the Lobos 11-1. At Fremont in South L.A., the Panthers blanked the Pathfinders 10-0.

Gardena begins the Marine League at home against Carson on March 23 at 3 p.m.

City teams struggle in state: The CIF-L.A. City Section increased their number of divisions to six, including the Open Division.

Fifteen L.A. City Section schools advanced to the Southern California Regional playoffs but only one even made it past the first round in Open Division Fairfax, the second seed behind Torrance Bishop Montgomery.

The Lions made it to the semifinals after downing Orange Lutheran 75-53 last Friday at Fairfax.

Fairfax hosted Southern Section Open Division runner-up Etiwanda, No. 3 seed, on Wednesday.

Knights slip past St. Augustine: Bishop Montgomery High’s boys’ basketball team was not exactly at its best but managed to get past the Southern California Regional Open Division quarterfinals with a 73-61 victory over St. Augustine from San Diego last Friday at Bishop Montgomery in Torrance.

The Knights had some spurts for big leads but had to hold on.

Christian Oshita led Bishop Montgomery (31-1) with 19 points. Blake Miles added 12 points and Ethan Thompson put in nine.

The win put the Knights into a regional semifinal showdown against traditional power Santa Ana Mater Dei at Redondo High last night. The Monarchs eliminated Westchester, head coached by 36th year mentor and former Gardena High basketball standout Ed Azzam, 67-44 in the quarterfinals last Friday at Mater Dei.

Bishop Montgomery, the Southern Section Open Division champion, is the top seed, while the Monarchs, Southern Section Open Division semifinalist, is fourth.

Serra ousts Westchester, Canyon Springs—advances to semis; other sports for March 19