A week and a half after taking home the CIF Division 5 state tournament title, Santa Clarita Christian boys basketball coach James Mosley is still as proud of his team as he was the moment he touched the championship trophy.
“The opportunity to coach them was so enjoyable to me,” Mosley said. “Talented kids that bought into being coached by me. And at the same time they were a perfect fit in terms of our school.”
The Cardinals’ season culminated in a 78-66 win over Argonaut of Jackson in the CIF championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on March 24 and grew from humble beginnings.
With a mixed bag of transfers that included Jordan Starr, Caden Starr, TJ Lowery, Kaleb Lowery, and Ty Penberthy, Mosley was dealt a hand from a freshly shuffled deck.
“We first did some stuff in the fall, (and were) not as cohesive,” Mosley said. “But I think pretty early in the season we played some tough competition. We figured out we had to do it together.”
The coach saw the Cards’ cohesion take the form of assists. In some of its earliest games in the season, SCCS recorded over 20 assists collectively as a team.
But it wasn’t until early January, when the Cardinals beat Valencia 73-48 in the War on the Floor Showcase, that Mosley truly saw his team take form.
“I felt like going into the Valencia game this year, we had had a great week of practice and we were getting healthy, had our guys eligible and ready to go,” he said.
“I knew we had something special and how well we played against Valencia. If we continue to grow and get better, we’ve got the chance to do something special.”
The Cardinals went on to breeze through their Heritage League slate, with their closest win coming in the form of a 54-51 win over Valley Torah on Feb. 5.
With the success mounting, Mosley says his team remained humble. Practices were light and fun with music and lots of game-speed drills.
“We tried to stay loose,” the coach said. “…We did basic defensive things every single day. But we tried to keep things enjoyable. A lot of competitive stuff. I think it kept us fresh throughout year.”
Looking to the future, SCCS returns myriad talent in players like Noah Veluzat (10.5 points per game), Caden Starr (9.9 ppg), Kaleb Lowery (8.6 ppg) and Justin Collins (8.1 ppg) as they could potentially see a bump to a higher CIF-Southern Section division after competing in Division 5AAA this season.
“For me, it was always I felt like God taught me a lot in terms of approaching each day and working hard and enjoying it,” Mosley said. “I’m accountable to serve the kids and please God with all I prepare. It’s nothing but joy and relief that we reached the potential with the team.”