Castaic basketball advances to QFs, beats Montclair 

Castaic shooting guard Giovanni Valentin (1) dribbles the ball against Canyon guard Noah Madrigal during the first quarter of Friday's game at Canyon High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Castaic shooting guard Giovanni Valentin (1) dribbles the ball against Canyon guard Noah Madrigal during the first quarter of Friday's game at Canyon High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
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Castaic Coyotes boys’ basketball is officially the last team standing in the Foothill League. 

The Coyotes punched their ticket to the CIF Division 5AA quarterfinals after defeating the Montclair Cavaliers, 55-41. 

Castaic coach Dominique Butler knew his team could take advantage of Montclair in the two middle quarters, but execution was still needed. The Coyotes’ attention to detail impressed their head coach yet again and led to a 36-17 disparity in the second and third quarters. 

“We knew that they had certain tendencies,” Butler told The Signal in a phone interview. “So we took away the 3-pointer and I told them, ‘Religiously, keep going to the basket. We don’t need to settle for jump shots. We can impose our will physically inside and that would be the difference.’ … We knew that Montclair’s second and third quarters would be their weakest and we kind of took advantage of that.”  

Butler was pleased with the efforts of his team, especially from Jack Shand, Lucas Milan and Ethan Thomas. The Coyotes coach also got a huge lift defensively from Gio Valentin and Tashaun Barron. 

“Gio Valentin, he was solid defensively,” Butler said. “We were waiting for a defensive presence from him for a long time and he was really honed in on that. Tashaun was really solid defensively with his rebounding and blocking shots. I don’t think he came out of the game until the end of the fourth quarter. He really did his job.” 

Barron snagged 12 rebounds, registered four blocks and had six points.  

Thomas, Shand, Valentin and Milan all had eight points. 

Castaic has had slow third quarters in the past but erased any chance of another occurrence by hitting two quick 3-pointers to open up the second half and keep the momentum going. 

The Coyotes held strong defensively in the fourth and allowed just eight points as the team kept its foot on the gas all the way to the finish. 

Butler is proud of his team but is also taking pride in the work the coaching staff has done preparing Castaic for the postseason. 

“We understand that it’s a new season and that means we as a coaching staff also have to step up our game,” Butler said. “We have to watch film, know tendencies, preach the fundamentals and game plan them into practice. It gets heightened even more to the point where we put pressure on ourselves rather than having pressure on the boys to do so. So shout out to my coaches that have done a tremendous job.” 

Castaic stumbled into the playoffs after finishing the season without a Foothill League win. However, in their new season, the Coyotes have created their own momentum and now are charging into the CIF quarterfinals. 

“I think we’re rounding out and hitting at the right time,” Butler said. “I was kind of worried at one point. I preach about having momentum going into the playoffs, and we were on a losing streak. But we started to create our own momentum and guys are feeding off of it. We’re not predicated on one or two guys. It’s a team effort on both floors. So I love that about our team.” 

Castaic will now return home and host the school’s first-ever home playoff game. The Coyotes take on the Godinez Fundamental Grizzlies (22-6) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Castaic High School.  

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