Throughout this season, Santa Clarita Christian boys basketball has proven that it can move the ball, shoot the three and defend, among myriad other skills.
But on Saturday night in the second round of the CIF Division 5 state tournament, the Cardinals showed their teeth and got aggressive in a 66-42 win over South East of South Gate.
“We want to go all the way, so we have to come out hungry every single game,” said Caden Starr. “Coach is always telling us in practice and it showed tonight.”
SCCS (23-9) showcased vicious rebounding and forced turnover after turnover en route to the victory over the CIF Los Angeles City Section Division 3 champions.
Kaleb Lowery led the Cards with 17 points. Noah Veluzat chipped in 13 – 12 of which were scored in the fourth quarter – and Starr added 11.
“We just played well as a team,” said Lowery. “We stopped the ball well, passed the ball well, moved the ball well, played defense altogether and worked well as a team to get the W.”
SCCS had mounted a 25-14 lead by halftime, but was challenged by Edward Norton, a left-handed, physical player who muscled his way to the net and was able to easily feed passes to top Jaguars (17-8) shooters.
“We just tried to stay in front, make it tough for him,” said coach James Mosley, “but he’s so quick and he’s so strong that he’s a tough (guy to guard). Our focus was keeping him out of the paint.”
Michael Ibarra was the South East’s top shooter in the contest, tallying 12 points. The Cardinals limited him to just two 3-pointers.
As the only boys basketball team in the Santa Clarita Valley left standing, SCCS has found itself in uncharted territory once again as it progresses through the state tournament for the first time in program history.
There’s no pressure, though.
“It’s almost more just excitement,” Mosley said. “You just want to do the very best you can for the kids to make sure they’re prepared. Especially when you have a talented team and so for me, I just want to enjoy it.”