In 2016-17, the Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball program went 16-6, losing in the 2017 CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA quarterfinals to Rolling Hills Prep.
In 2017-18, the program ended its season with the school’s first-ever state title after a 78-66 win over Argonaut in Sacramento for the Division 5AAA championship.
Adjusting on the fly, head coach James Mosley helped the Cardinals to a 19-game winning streak, but in his typically humble, low-key style, The Signal’s 2018 Coach of the Year credited his players with the turnaround.
“We knew that we had a talented group, but we wanted to commit to working hard every day, Mosley said. “The guys were being challenged and we were doing everything we could to help them to improve by playing a tough schedule early and putting them through the ringer a little bit. The kids really had to buy into playing hard and staying together.”
The Cardinals boys basketball team’s 2017-18 season was Mosley’s 16th at the helm, and didn’t come without challenges.
“It took a little bit of a transition period, but they are such good kids and committed to working hard,” Mosley said. “Justin (Collins) was the player that really initiated things. He was really the guys in the past, but he was so excited that it made it easy.”
However, adding transfers at the beginning of the season with the likes of brothers Jordan and Caden Starr and TJ and Kaleb Lowery to an already playoff-ready squad did provide challenges for the team that Mosley guided the squad past.
The Cardinals started the season with three straight losses, and dropped eight out of the first 10 games to begin the season, making a repeat playoff run look anything like a foregone conclusion.
“That was the toughest part of the season, losing games to really good teams because we were still trying to find ourselves,” Mosley said, describing how the team played in 2017 vs. 2018 this past season. “Probably early when we were getting adjusted in the Battle Zone and Torrey Pines Under Armour Classic,” Mosley said, mentioning the trying times. “It was a high, high level of competition and dealing with those early losses right after the Christmas tournament really hurt. But I was so grateful that we stayed together.”
Find themselves, they did.
After a mid-January loss, the Cardinals put together their run by building team chemistry, Mosley said, something that he’s preached since the beginning of the season, he said. The numbers speak for themselves — the Cardinals scored 80 points per game while allowing only 41.
“We figured out early that if we stayed together and played defense we could really do something,” Mosley said. “ We really believed that we had multiple guys that could score so our message was to defend and give ourselves the chance to be stout defensively. That was the message and I think that the kids bought into it.”
Mosley said the run is also a reflection of the large quantity of basketball talent that’s not as well known, but word is spreading.
“I think people will recognize the great talent in the valley,” Mosley said. “We have great coaches and I think now everyone will acknowledge that we have a great brand of basketball.
“I would hope that we did something special out here in the valley. The amount of time that we spend trying to develop them by becoming better men and establish their faith in the lord and I want to impact them as men and share what God has done in my life.”
|Coach of the Year
|SCCS boys basketball
|Golden Valley football
|Saugus cross country/track & field
Past Coaches of the Year
2016-17 — Jerry Mike (Valencia)
2015-16 — Rene Paragas (Saugus)
2014-15 — Jim Ozella (Hart) and Annie Kellogg (Valencia)
2013-14 — Rene Paragas (Saugus)
2012-13 — Rene Paragas (Saugus)
2011-12 — Rob and Chris Evans (Golden Valley)
2010-11 — Rene Paragas (Saugus)
2009-10 — Rene Paragas (Saugus)
2008-09 — Rene Paragas (Saugus)
2007-08 — No award given
2006-07 — Harry Welch (Canyon)