The Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball won its second CIF-Southern Section title in three years, and first since 2018, with their 61-39 victory in the Division 2AA Championship game against St. Francis on Saturday.
“The first is always the sweetest because it’s the first, but this one after going through and losing last year, the build up this week for me was a lot of energy and a little anxiousness,” said SCCS head coach James Mosley.
Two players – Caden Starr and Kaleb Lowery – have been at the center of the Cardinals’ tear in the postseason and they’ve been the building blocks for every step that came before.
Transferring in from Foothills Christian in the San Diego area, Starr and Lowery joined the Cardinals during their sophomore years of high school, along with their older brothers, Jordan Starr and T.J. Lowery, and made an immediate impact on the team with their length, size and basketball IQ.
“They really have a knack for each other,” Mosley said. “If one of those guys gets the ball in their hands going to the basket, the other one will dive and they have a connection.”
When the duo transferred into SCCS the Cardinals were classified in Division 5AAA. Throughout the 2017-18 season, the pair’s chemistry grew as the team went undefeated in Heritage League play and cruised to double-digit victories against Rubidoux, La Quinta, Bloomington and La Puente to capture the program’s first CIF-SS title.
Earning a berth to the Division V state tournament, the Cardinals continued their tear beating Corcoran, South East, San Diego, Van Nuys and Argonaut en-route to the team’s first state title in program history.
Starr averaged 10 points, four rebounds and two assists per game, while Lowery averaged nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and a block per game during the season.
The following year in 2018-19, SCCS moved up to Division 3AA and Starr and Lowery were at the forefront of the team as juniors. The Cardinals advanced to the postseason once again with double-digit wins against Millikan, Citrus Hill and Warren before running into some trouble with Highland in the semifinals.
Down 50-49 with less than a second remaining in the game, inbounding the ball from underneath their own basket, Starr received the pass just above halfcourt and put up a prayer as the buzzer sounded. Starr’s prayer was answered as his shot fell and the Cardinals advanced to their second straight CIF-SS title game.
SCCS lost a close one to Rolling Hills Prep, and again in the second round of the D II state tourney to Rancho Cucamonga.
This year, as seniors, the pair has begun the postseason in similar fashion to their CIF-SS and CIF State title run and have cemented themselves as the cornerstones of SCCS basketball.
“They have played a huge role in the style we play,” Mosley said. “We have to have skilled bigs that can move and pass and make decisions, it makes us really hard to guard.
“These two have led us. They have been the cornerstones of our team the last three years. It’s a great feeling of stewardship knowing the talent that we have had and to achieve this.”