For the first time in eight seasons, the tides have turned in Santa Clarita’s Heritage League boys’ basketball rivalry.
The Trinity Knights defeated the Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals, 69-49, snapping a 10-game losing streak against its league rival on Monday at the Newhall Church of the Nazarene.
“It’s a big deal,” said Knights coach Daniel Hebert. “They’ve gone through different players and teams and so have we, but anytime you can put an end to a streak like that, it means something. We talked about before the game just how great of an opportunity it was to beat the team that we haven’t beaten in eight years and to win a big league game against a league rival.”
Strong defensive pressure, solid rebounding effort and a barrage of 3-point baskets made the difference for the Knights (7-3, 2-3).
Trinity was led by senior Lucas Spring, who exploded for 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Spring went five-for-nine from beyond the arc in the first half to help the Knights build a double-digit lead. The senior shooting guard and his team brought out a ton of energy, despite some slow starts in games this season.
“I think it was our energy,” Spring said on what made the biggest difference. “We started with energy in the beginning. Usually we start slow but today we really picked it up.”
Spring stayed hot through all four quarters, but the second half belonged to teammate Conrad Alderson. The senior scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half and hit six 3-pointers on the night.
“That’s a testament to all the work (Alderson) put in in the offseason,” Hebert said. “He worked so hard, got way better, and now it’s showing. His confidence is there and he’s not afraid to shoot anything. I know I don’t have to tell him to pull the trigger.”
Despite the 20-point win, SCCS (2-6, 1-5) kept it close all night before the game slipped away in the final minutes.
Cardinals guard Evan Ok kept his team alive throughout the night. Ok poured in 28 points while also adding three steals on defense.
Ok hit four shots from behind the arc, including a deep, contested shot that cut Trinity’s lead to one point in the second quarter. However, the Knights closed out the first half on an 11-2 run, where the team picked up several of its seven first-half steals.
SCCS forced numerous turnovers but couldn’t capitalize consistently.
“I think we made some smart decisions and we adjusted to their press, which helped a little bit the second half,” said Cardinals first-year coach Dan Broyles. “We did really well on the boards at times, too.”
Junior Nolan Broyles led the defensive charge with 11 rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Broyles slammed a transition dunk down in the third quarter moments before teammate Caleb Shaffer registered one of his several offensive put-backs to cut the deficit to five points. The Knights again answered on offense and managed to pull away.
Noah Phillips is one of two former Cardinals who transferred over to Trinity this year. The sophomore sharpshooter had a quiet night with five points. However, Hebert believes if anyone was nervous about Monday night’s game, it was him.
SCCS has a lot to look forward to with no seniors and a ton of talent on its roster but for coach Broyles, it’s all about getting better every day.
“Absolutely, we’re excited for the future,” coach Broyles said. “(We) just want to keep improving. That’s all we can ask for.”
On top of renewing the SCV rivalry, the win also snaps a two-game skid for the Knights, who will enter the rest of the season at full strength with the sitout period ending. Junior guard Cy Mitchell will become eligible and likely suit up in the team’s next contest and the Knights are excited to see how they play.
“We’re going to look a lot better than we have so far, especially with this win carrying momentum into the next few games,” Spring said. “With Cy back, we will be better, both on offense and defense. Our defense is gonna pick up like crazy.”
The two teams will match up again in January but will be busy before then. The Cards will have a road test with the Palmdale Academy Jaguars on Thursday at 5 p.m. The Knights will host the Ambassador Lions on Thursday, Dec. 28, at 5 p.m.