The Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball team will be playing in its second straight CIF-Southern Section finals on Saturday at 4 p.m., taking on Rolling Hills Preparatory School in the Division 3AA championship game at Godinez High School in Santa Ana.
SCCS and Rolling Hills Prep have met once before, two years ago in the quarterfinals of the Division 5AA playoffs, with the Huskies winning 57-42 on their way to winning the title that season.
The only player who participated in that game two years ago that is currently on the team is senior Justin Collins.
“There is no pressure honestly. This team is so offensively powerful and I just think defensively we have to come ready and match their energy ‘cause it seems like they are a scrappy group,” Collins said.
The Cardinals have had a rollercoaster season, being forced to forfeit several games due to using an ineligible player. Every game that player participated in was scrapped, leaving SCCS with a 6-21 regular season record.
Noah Veluzat, who was an integral part of the Cardinals’ championship team last year, transferred mid-season, adding yet another obstacle for SCCS to overcome.
The roadblocks only made the team stronger, as the Cardinals overcame everything that was thrown their way and now find themselves playing for back-to-back championships.
“I don’t think we are concerned about anything at this point. We’ve been through a lot this year and just goes to show how God is real and how He has helped us out this season,” Collins said. “Despite the fall back with our record, we know that we won those games and we worked hard for it each day. I don’t think we are afraid of anyone and we’ve played a tough schedule this year. We will do our thing as always which is sharing the ball and looking out for one another.”
The final stop on the road to consecutive championships will likely be the most challenging yet, as Rolling Hills Prep is a formidable opponent that had a solid regular season, finishing 20-6 overall and 6-0 in the Coastal League.
The Huskies defeated their first four playoff opponents (Price, Ocean View, Schurr and Oxnard) by a combined 116 points, with the closest game being the semifinal matchup against Oxnard, in which they won by 18 points.
SCCS and Rolling Hills Prep shared two common opponents this year, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and Bishop Alemany. The Huskies lost to both teams while the Cardinals defeated Alemany, though the game was later forfeited.
Both teams also participated at The Classic at Damien, but didn’t cross paths because SCCS won its opening game in the tournament while Rolling Hills Prep lost in the first round.
Whatever the outcome may be, Collins and his teammates are proud of what they accomplished this year and can play freely knowing they gave it their all the entire season.
“All praise to God win or lose because we know we played our hearts out each game and no matter what hits us we all got each other’s back,” Collins said. “We are extremely thankful for our coaching staff and the fans that helped us thus far.”