Castaic hoops dropped at home by Granada Hills, 66-55 

Castaic Coyotes guard Carson Golden (3) dribbles past a Taft Toreadors defender during a non-league game between Castaic and Taft High Schools for the Santa Clarita Valley Showcase at West Ranch High School on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Castaic boys’ basketball (6-7, 0-2) dropped its fourth straight game in a non-league matchup to the Granada Hills Charter Highlanders (2-4), 66-55. 

The Highlanders had four players score in double digits and were led by Zander Hollie, who tallied up 19 points. 

Castaic was led by freshman Noah Crouch’s 14-point, four-rebound night. 

Unforced turnovers would kill the Coyotes and lead to easy transition buckets for Granada. 

Castaic worked the ball around well but just couldn’t hit enough shots early in the game as the Highlanders jumped up to a quick 14-6 lead. 

The Highlanders gripped onto their lead and went into the halftime break up 33-21. 

Coyotes head coach Dominique Butler told his team that to get back into the game they’d need to win the opening minutes. 

“I told them, ‘We have to win the first four minutes.’” said Butler. “It’s easy for kids just in general to get down on themselves when they’re down. But from the coaching staff and from the other players, if we keep encouraging these guys, they’re going to get over that hump. We’ve been stressing facing adversity and what are we going to do when adversity hits and they’re starting to respond and starting to come around.” 

Castaic had its best offensive quarter in the third, registering 17 points. However, Granada posted its best offensive output with 24 points, keeping the lead close to 20 thanks to shooting from Granada guard Joe Greene. 

The senior began heating up in the second half, hitting multiple shots from behind the arc to keep Castaic out of striking distance. Greene finished with 17 points. 

The Coyotes couldn’t close the gap and wouldn’t outscore the Highlanders until the fourth quarter. The team started full-court pressing Granada and found some success in slowing down their opponent’s offense. 

The Highlanders would put up just nine points in the final quarter to Castaic’s 17. A handful of missed free throws and the unforced errors throughout the game would be the difference as the Coyotes fell back under .500.  

However, Butler loved his team’s fight to the final whistle.  

“They could have hung their heads but they kept pushing and fighting through,” said Butler. “I’m extremely proud of their progress and the hustle all the way to the final seconds.” 

The Coyotes had numerous steals in crunch time, including a steal and score in the same motion from Crouch. 

Castaic has already surpassed its total wins from last season, which has recently landed the team in the top-15 rankings in Division 5AA. 

“I think guys are still learning about each other,” said Butler. “They’re trying to see where their spots are. They’re trying to learn and trust each other. That requires them to make the extra pass or trust them and help defensively and everything else. It’s a process but these guys are still working extremely hard. We’re trying to keep their heads up and understand that the wins don’t determine success or progress but what we’re doing during practice and games does as well.” 

The Coyotes will look to keep grinding and improve every day. 

“We’re working on attacking the basket,” said Butler. “We’re working on being in help defensively. More than anything else, I want them to work on communication. Communication translates not (just) in the game situation, but we’re also trying to advance them in life as adults and young men so that they can be successful in their lives.” 

Castaic will return to league play on Friday when the team hosts Hart (3-4, 0-2) at 6:30 p.m. 

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