W. Basketball: Late lead slips away in championship game

Serene Rendon scores two of her 24 points against Fullerton College
Serene Rendon scores two of her 24 points against Fullerton College

Competing in their final tournament of the season, the Cerritos College women's basketball team reached the championship game of the Fullerton Tournament on Friday. The Falcons, who defeated both Skyline College (82-62) and the host Hornets (80-63), took on state power Mt. San Antonio College in the finals. Looking to snap a 13-game losing streak against the Mounties, Cerritos (12-7) dropped an 80-76 overtime game against the Mounties. The team has not defeated Mt. SAC since the 2010-11 season and saw their losing streak extend to 14 games. The team will now open South Coast Conference crossover play on January 5 when they travel to Pasadena City College for a 6:00 p.m. crossover game.

Cerritos vs. Skyline: All-Tournament selection Serena Rendon (Carson HS) posted her first of three straight 20-point games, as she netted 10-of-20 shots and finished with a game-high 26 points. She helped the Falcons open a 45-21 lead at intermission with 16 points, while sophomore Alexis Clark (Mayfair HS) posted 12 of her 22 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, it was freshman Jesenia Rendon (Carson HS), also named to the All-Tournament team, who helped Cerritos get out to an early 17-6 lead after the first quarter, as she drained a pair of three-pointers while adding a pair of free throws. Clark scored the first six points of the second quarter, with Serena Rendon following with a three-pointer to put the Falcons up, 26-8. The advantage swelled to 27 points (45-18) after a pair of Serena Rendon free throws with 2:08 left in the first half. The lead hovered around 20 points for the remainder of the game. Clark finished by making 8-of-13 field goals and pulled down six rebounds, with Jesenia Rendon contributing 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists off the bench. Freshman Gillian Yamasaki (South Torrance HS) posted 10 points in a starting role, with both Miranda Ta'amu (Los Alamitos HS) and Carolina Cuevas (Legacy HS) each hauling in nine rebounds.

Cerritos vs. Fullerton: Despite a slow start to the game, where the Falcons trailed 7-0, the team responded with a 13-0 run of their own to take a 13-7 lead. Sophomore Angie Ferreira (Long Beach Millikan HS) accounted for six of those points, as she drained a three-pointer and capped off a three-point play that made it a 12-7 game. By the end of the first quarter, Cerritos had a 27-14 advantage, which included three-pointers from Jesenia Rendon and Yamasaki. After Jesenia Rendon converted a jumper for a 31-21 lead with 7:42 left in the first half, the Falcons limited the Hornets to just five points the rest of the half and enjoyed a 48-26 lead at intermission. Cerritos upped their lead to 26 points in the second half, and went on to post their second straight convincing win. Serena Rendon converted 8-of-13 shots, which included four three-pointers to finish with 24 points and five rebounds, with Jesenia Rendon concluding with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Clark (10 points, six rebounds), Ferreira (eight points, four assists) and Ta'amu (seven points) also played well in a winning cause.

Cerritos vs. Mt. San Antonio: Looking for their first win over the Mounties in seven years, the Falcons turned a 50-49 deficit with 9:00 left in the fourth quarter into a 61-54 lead with 4:28 left in regulation. They maintained that lead to 68-61 with 1:19 remaining after a Ta'amu jump shot. However, Mt. SAC defense kept Cerritos off the board the remainder of the game and scored the final seven points to send the game into overtime. In the final 1:19, the Falcons were 0-for-1 from the field and committed three turnovers, with the Mounties tying the game on a pair of free throws with :07 seconds left in regulation. In the extra period, Mt. SAC received eight points from Dominique McLaughlin, while Cerritos was just 1-for-4 from the field with a pair of turnovers. Serena Rendon finished with her second 30-point game of the season (both losing causes), as she was 10-of-18 from the field, which included going 7-of-8 from three-point range, along with eight rebounds. Jesenia Rendon turned in 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, with Cuevas (nine points, eight rebounds) and Ferreira (10 points, five assists, three rebounds) recorded strong games.