It was deja vu for Trinity Knights boys’ basketball on Saturday at The Master’s University. Trinity worked up a comfortable lead over the hosting Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals but couldn’t hold on as the Cards won their 10th straight game over the Knights.
Cardinals guard Rylan Starr didn’t have his best game on Saturday, but took over the game in the fourth quarter, racking up the bulk of his game-high 18 points to beat Trinity, 47-44.
“To be honest, I was extremely tired,” said Starr on his fourth-quarter scoring frenzy. “I just had to lock in a little bit and kind of focus up. Coach hyped us up a little bit, and then went out and played well.”
The Knights (15-10, 7-7) worked up a comfortable lead in the second quarter, thanks to a 12-0 run. Trinity was led by senior Bram Yoo with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
SCCS (13-7, 10-5) closed down the gap and went into the halftime break down 27-25.
Trinity’s defense carried the team through the third quarter. The Knights allowed just two field goals through nearly seven minutes of the quarter before the Cardinals again chipped away at the lead.
The Cardinals also played exceptional defense throughout the contest. The home team held Trinity to just six points in the final quarter.
That defensive effort was highlighted by SCCS sophomore Cy Mitchell, who registered 13 points, nine rebounds, two steals and a block. Mitchell is typically assigned opposing teams’ top players.
“Cy plays hard,” Starr said. “He’s my best friend and he’s a hard worker. He showed that tonight and I appreciate him for that.”
Midway through the final quarter, there were multiple lead changes. Starr retook the lead for SCCS with an interior score but a Yoo layup off a steal gave the Knights the lead back.
However, Starr kept finding the net via the floor or free throw line and notched the 47-44 lead.
Trinity fired a trio of 3-pointers in crunch time in efforts to tie the game. Knights point guard Gabe Chavez, who was shooting well from 3, took the second shot but Cards senior Emmanuel Yarborough nearly sealed the game with a clutch block but the ball was swatted out of bounds. Knights junior Lucas Spring just missed the last shot of the game and SCCS escaped with its 10th Heritage League win of the year.
Chavez and Spring both finished with 11 points on the day.
It wasn’t the finish Trinity head coach Daniel Hebert planned for, but he believes it was his team’s most physical performance of the season.
“We played our most physical game all year,” Hebert said. “Our two leading scorers had four fouls by the end of the game, and that really shows how physical they were being. So, I’m proud of them for not backing down from the challenge.”
The 10-game win streak dates back to 2017, showcasing the dominance of SCCS in the rivalry. For Mitchell, this win meant a little extra over any of the others.
“It feels amazing,” Mitchell said. “We were down in both games but we came back both games this one was obviously a lot closer.”
SCCS will close out its season on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the team hosts Faith Baptist. The Cards are set to return to the playoffs
“At the beginning of the year we had potential, but our experience level was down,” Mitchell said. “Our team was new. There wasn’t a bond between any of us. But as the season grew, we got that experience and we grew closer. And now I would say we’re a different team and we play together.”
Trinity will aim to build off its best game of the season and head to the playoffs with some momentum. Hebert believes that, despite the outcome, the team played its best game all year. The coach hoped to see the same fight on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the Knights were set to host Desert Christian.
“That’s a great team that we just played and I think we played our best game all year as a unit,” Hebert said. “Maybe our scorers didn’t have 30 points, but as a team, we feel like we played our best game. So, I’m proud of the guys. It’s hard for them to hear that right now, but I’m proud of them. We just want to keep building off this going into the playoffs.”