Each time a Santa Clarita Christian boys basketball player drained a 3-pointer, the entire Cardinals bench stood up in celebration. SCCS nearly spent more time standing than sitting on Saturday night at the War on the Floor Showcase at Pierce College, beating Valencia 74-48. The Cards earned 36 points from beyond the arc en route to the defeat of the defending co-Foothill League champions.
“We just try to stay humble,” said SCCS’s Jordan Starr. “But we expected to win coming in. I’m not saying we expected to destroy everybody, but we expect to win every time we step out on the floor and we came ready to play and we just were able to finish it.” Starr was first on the team in terms of scoring with 19 points and six rebounds. Kaleb Lowery followed with 17 points and six rebounds. The Cardinals held a 12-9 lead after the first quarter, then extended that lead to 32-22 by halftime. The Vikings, typically a physical team that can get to the basket, were limited by a suffocating SCCS defense. “Their defense was very tight,” said Valencia’s Dexter Akanno. “They packed it in the paint so it was hard for me to attack and get into the paint. They’re a really well-coached team.” Akanno managed a team-high 13 points on the night, but his scoring prowess was slowed in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, SCCS held over a 20-point lead. It didn’t help Valencia (4-10) that Zach Hawkins, a first-rate shooter, exited the game in the first quarter. He was later seen icing and elevating his left ankle on the bench. The Cardinals (4-7) suffered an injury as well, with Ty Penberthy, in his first game eligible as a Card, injuring his ankle in the fourth quarter. Coach James Moseley said he expects Penberthy, who contributed eight points, to return in about a week and a half. Kevin Stone also made his debut for SCCS and notched 10 points with one steal. “They just give us another aspect of shooting,” Moseley said of Penberthy and Stone. “And we’ve got weapons on the floor, you know, our rotation expanded so we were able to play a lot better defensively. It was just a huge lift.” Valencia begins Foothill League play against Saugus on Jan. 9, while SCCS resumes Heritage League play on Jan. 8.