SCCS boys hoops advances to second round

Santa Clarita Christian's Pejan Slater (30) comes up with a loose ball against Marantha defender Isaiah Johnson (1) at The Master's University on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball opened up playoffs in a big way on Wednesday night by beating Maranatha of Pasadena, 63-47, in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA tournament at The Master’s University.

Although they’ve been successful nearly everywhere, Wednesday’s venue provided a little extra hype.

“The community really gets behind us here,” said SCCS coach James Mosley. “We’re very successful here. Over the last three years, I don’t think we’ve lost a playoff game here and for us, it’s just a great opportunity to display what we’ve been doing all year long.”

The Cardinals (20-5 overall) were able to break open the game early by using 3-point shooting. With a little over six minutes left in the first quarter, Josh O’Garro hit a three that sparked a 9-0 scoring run. Ty Harper drained a three from the top of the key and another shortly after to put SCCS up 10-2 with 4:30 left in the frame.

A handful of dunks from O’Garro later, the Cards held a 20-9 lead heading into the second stanza.

“It gave us a big push. A huge push,” O’Garro said. “It gave us some momentum. Everything started coming. The dunks, more three’s and more layups.”

The Minutemen (13-16) bit down in the second quarter and outscored SCCS 14-8, relying on the physical play of bigs Terrance Hamilton Jr. and Christian Oliver. The former was able to chip in seven points in the frame.

“I was really worried about that because not only are they big but they also have size,” Mosley said. “We just wanted to do a good job of pushing them out, making them work. We had a couple breakdowns here but I thought we did a decent job.”

SCCS carried a 28-23 lead into halftime and although Maranatha continued its aggressive play in the third quarter, the Cardinals were able to douse it with their scoring prowess.

Santa Clarita Christian’s Josh Ogarro (2) hangs on the rim as he slam dunks against Marantha at The Master’s University on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

O’Garro made a layup then a 3-pointer and also made two free throws to put his team up 38-27 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Harper followed with five points of his own to bring the score to 40-30 by the end of the frame.

The advantage allowed the Cardinals to relax in the fourth quarter and give the night’s top scorers a chance to pick up a few more points.

O’Garro and Harper each scored 22 points and Jase Jones and Kaleb Lowery each added 10 points.

“We’ve got a bunch of scoring power,” O’Garro said. “On the day when we actually play to our full potential, it’s going to be scary.”

SCCS will play La Habra, which beat Tesoro 55-47 on Wednesday night, in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs. The game is scheduled for Friday with the time and location yet to be finalized as of The Signal’s press deadline.

“(A win in the) first round is always good, you know, because we expect to go to the finals,” said Lowery.

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