Cardinals boys hoops holds steady, wins by four

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Santa Clarita Christian boys basketball let an early lead slip away in the final three minutes of its Monday night home game against Faith Baptist of Canoga Park, but landed crucial free throws when it counted to secure a 59-55 win and maintain an undefeated league record.

“I just told them to be strong, we talked about being aggressive and actually enjoying the pressure, which is a big part of growing as a team,” said coach James Mosley. “I feel like today we grew as a team because there was some pressure and we dealt with it.”

With 2:47 remaining in the game, the Cardinals (10-3 overall, 4-0 in Heritage) were leading 53-49. In the ensuing 60 seconds, the roles were reversed, with the Contenders taking a 55-53 advantage.

MORE SCCS: Girls basketball falls to Faith Baptist

But Josh Fehr made two free throws with 43 seconds remaining, then made another two with 20 seconds left to set the Cardinals up for a two-point lead.

“I just knew I needed to hit them to close out the game, and I just got up there and calmed down and sealed the game for us,” Fehr said. “Nothing was really going through my mind at the moment. I’m just trying to stay composed and do what I do.”

Faith Baptist (8-10, 4-3) had a chance to get back in it, but missed two free throws just before Josh Mena drew a penalty and scored two extra security points for SCCS.

It took a while for the Cardinals to get up to speed. They didn’t score until five minutes into the game.

But the buckets increased with Justin Collins and AJ Caldwell leading an aggressive second quarter campaign against a Contenders squad that had size on their side.

“My coach and my family have told me I need to develop that killer instinct,” Collins said.

“We were working on one-on-one moves, beating your defender by one dribble, do whatever you can to free your teammates up. Every time they tried to clog the lane, we just tried to space the floor out and make open buckets.”

Collins finished the game with 10 points. Caldwell had 21.

The Cardinals know keeping up the pace throughout all four quarters will be key in order to pursue their goal of league champions.

“The past couple of games we’ve kind of let that happen, and we really just need to, coming out in the second half, just keep pounding on them,” Fehr said. “We always start slow in the second half. We kind of sit back and let them get back in and then it’s a close game in the end and we just have to put up.”

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