Castaic Coyotes boys’ basketball blasted out of the gates to open the 2023-24 season.
Castaic, aka “The Lake Boyz,” won the Antelope Valley tournament and is now 3-0 on the season after the early championship.
The Coyotes defeated Highland, Rosamond and even league-rival Canyon en route to the tournament championship.
Castaic coach Dominique Butler says after last year’s finish to the season, his team was left dissatisfied, and has been putting in the work to turn the page this season. The Coyotes’ hard work isn’t over quite yet, but the work is starting to the pay off.
“Progress, it’s progress, they’re reaping the rewards of their hard work,” Butler said in a phone interview. “They’ve been putting in work since March. I feel like they have a long way to go until they reach that ceiling but off to a great start.”
Castaic improved through each game and posted larger margins of victory in each win as they progressed. The Coyotes opened up their season with an 80-68 win over Highland but started off the season with some nerves.
“There were definitely some nerves,” Butler said. “Guys resorted to their normal habits. We settled them down and went out and did what we had to do. We turned up the pressure and our attention to details … We put Thristian Lewis in the game, and he turned up the intensity for us, and the guys fed on that energy.”
Lewis led the defensive pressure with six steals. Senior Gio Valentin led the team in scoring with 18 points. Tashaun Barron posted a double-double in his season debut, finishing the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Vito Cavallo also added 12 points for Castaic.
Barron and Valentin remained consistent throughout the tournament and each averaged 13 points per game.
The Coyotes had won their season opener for the first time in program history, but they weren’t done yet. Castaic then got an early look at crosstown rival Canyon in the second round. Butler’s team amped up their energy and ran wild through the semifinal bout, winning, 98-75.
“I think these kids feed off of people trash talking to them. They saw a league opponent and were amped to play them. It wasn’t just starters, they started off great. Guys came off the bench and kept it going. They challenged themselves to keep it going and I commend them for that.”
Barron led with 16 points, while senior guard Lucas Milan finished with 15 points and eight assists. Senior center Kevin Curtis had the Coyote basket locked down and finished the night with four blocks.
The Coyotes felt the momentum behind them and charged through the championship game, smoking Rosamond, 91-52. Castaic senior Christian Clark became the first Coyote to score 20 points this season and finished the championship game with 23 points. Valentin also added 16 points while Lewis finished with 10.
Butler was pleased with his team’s ability to keep sharing the ball, even in a blowout where some Coyotes had higher numbers.
“They trusted each other,” Butler said. “They didn’t care who had the most points, they only cared about who was open. It was amazing to see them do that.”
Castaic will have one more non-league game on Monday before getting thrown into the Foothill League fire with West Ranch. The start to the season could be a change in the tides for the young Coyote program and Butler believes if things keep up, his guys could be competing for more than a league championship.
“They’ve surprised me with how well they’ve played so far,” Butler said. “I think our defense could be a lot better and one thing we need to harp on is communication. We want to clean things up for league play because we can go far, and do things in the CIF playoffs. I truly believe we can do that.”
The Coyotes will have their home opener on Monday when the team hosts the Palmdale Aerospace Academy Griffins at 7 p.m.