It’s a traditional preleague cliche for teams to say they’ll challenge themselves heading into their respective league play.
That’s been more than just lip service for the Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball team.
After participating in the highly-coveted Battle Zone in Corona earlier this month, the Cardinals have taken their talents south for the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego.
Through two games, the Cardinals have lost twice — the latest, a 61-58 overtime loss to El Camino of Oceanside on Thursday morning.
The holiday tournament attracts some of the top teams in the nation. It hosts schools from New York, Florida, Texas, Ohio and several other states from across the country — and even a team from Canada.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity for the guys to just bond together but also getting that chance to play top-level competition,” said Cardinals coach James Mosley in a phone interview. “It makes us realize how good we can be if we follow down this path and consistently work at it.”
The Cardinals’ offseason transfer haul has been well-documented. The influx of talent has given SCCS its first chance at playing in tournaments like the two thus far.
Freshman Noah Veluzat and senior Jordan Starr led the Cardinals with 13 points apiece in Thursday’s loss. Justin Collins had 11 points and Kaleb Lowery had 10 points.
SCCS dropped its first game of the tournament Wednesday to Spanish Springs (Nev.), 72-57. Veluzat led the team with 14 points.
“He’s been huge for us; very competitive on both sides of the ball,” said Mosley of Veluzat, a 6-foot guard. “We’ve had him guard the top players on the other teams. That’s a big task for a freshman and he’s handled it so impressively.”
Believe it or not, more help is still on the way for the Cardinals. Ty Penberthy, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, will be eligible to play starting Jan. 1. Penberthy, son of former Lakers point guard Mike Penberthy, attended Village Christian last season with current teammates Jordan and Caden Starr.
“Thank goodness it’s almost over,” said Mosley with a laugh about the end of Penberthy’s CIF waiting period due to transferring. “He’s another weapon and he’ll help us add more intensity on defense.”
The Cardinals will also begin to enjoy the services of Kevin Stone on Jan. 1 — a 6-foot-4 junior who transferred it from Canyon. They’ve been without senior forward T.J. Lowery all season due to injury. He would’ve likely been one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s top talents this season.
Besides playing in games, SCCS has taken some time out to go to the beaches in San Diego and was hoping to attend a University of San Diego men’s basketball game. It’s also set aside some time to view the high-level competition going at it in the tournament.
It’s served as a valuable mentoring trip for a starting lineup that includes just one senior.
“That’s been the most exciting part for me,” Mosley said.
SCCS will take on El Cerrito from the Bay Area on Friday morning and will finish out tournament play Saturday, with its opponent still to be determined.
The Cardinals still have one big-time matchup left on their regular-season schedule following the holiday tournament, before diving in to Heritage League play.
That comes against Valencia on Jan. 6 at the War on the Floor Showcase in Woodland Hills