Castaic boys’ basketball headed to CIF semis, routs Godinez 

Christian Clark (2) shoots against Godinez Fundamental defender Bryan Huirache (34) at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The first-ever playoff game in Castaic High School’s gym brought countless memories as the Coyotes ran wild against the visiting Godinez Fundamental Grizzlies.  

Castaic punched its ticket to the CIF Division 5AA semifinals as well as the state tournament, after beating Godinez, 93-63, snapping the Grizzlies’ 15-game win streak.  

The Coyotes (17-14) played relentless defense and were led in that department by senior Tashaun Barron, who registered a double-double with his 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals. 

Barron and the team’s defense sparked a pair of 12-0 runs in the first half that helped the team pull way ahead. 

Tashaun Barron (0) shoots against Godinez Fundamental at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Our coaches make us do some painful defensive drills during practice, but it pays off,” Barron said. “Our team also has a bunch of dogs and it was about time we showed up. We were playing as a team, and defense led to offense.” 

As for offense, the team shared the ball well per usual, and had all starters score in the first six minutes of play. However, no one torched the Grizzlies (24-7) more than Coyotes senior Christian Clark. 

Clark missed his first 3-pointer but wasn’t deterred to keep shooting and wound up knocking down a program-record eight shots from behind the arc. 

“I missed my first one, but I was like, ‘We good.’” Clark said. “I kept shooting it and I started hitting them and I thought, ‘Alright, they’re hitting today and I’m having one of those days.’” 

Christian Clark (2) aims a three-pointer against Godinez Fundamental at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Clark registered a game-high 36 points, which was also a program record, and also added four rebounds.  

Castaic came out ready for the quarterfinals and opened up the first-ever playoff game in its gym with high energy. 

The Coyotes registered their first 12-0 run in the first quarter as the team broke a 7-7 tie and jumped ahead. 

Senior Gio Valentin was a force in the first quarter, in which he registered nine of his 11 points and most of his five assists and five rebounds. 

Castaic gave up an easy bucket to start the second but hunkered down immediately after and sparked its second 12-0 run. Barron was an irritant on defense and forced several turnovers or tough shots from Godinez senior Ma’Gen Young. 

The Grizzlies were a little stagnant throughout the first half and didn’t showcase much offense besides feeding the 6-foot, 7-inch Young or going one-on-one from the perimeter. Castaic’s physicality in the paint was too much for Godinez and forced numerous misses. 

The Grizzlies defended much better in the second half, as the team’s high press forced a handful of turnovers, which led to the team putting up 18 points in the third. However, Barron’s defense matched the Godinez effort as he came up with three of his four steals in the quarter. 

Kevin Curtis (11) shoots against Godinez Fundamental at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Barron and Butler have recently talked a lot about trust, the team’s new motto in the postseason. 

“Tay came to me a couple weeks ago and we talked about trust and how he wants me to trust him more,” Butler said. “He wants to see the floor a little bit more and I trust my guys are gonna put him in that position guys and not let me down. So defensively he’s been an anchor.” 

Godinez made a solid cut at the deficit in the fourth quarter behind 11 points from sharpshooter Adrian Gonzalez. However, even with the Coyote reserves all in, the team couldn’t stop missing shots.  

Lucas Andaluz led the Grizzlies with 21 points and five steals. 

Castaic put on a show for possibly the largest home crowd Butler has seen in his own gym.  

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen us have all season long and I think they fed off that energy,” Butler said. “If we could get a little bit more of that at the home games in the regular season, it might be a different ballgame.  

After the final buzzer, Barron and the team rushed out onto the court to celebrate with their peers as the team knew they had just made history. 

“I love my student section,” Barron said. “They pulled through and that definitely got us going tonight. They were very supportive. I love the energy that Castaic brings. That was a very big factor.” 

Getting through league was tough on the team but the coaching staff remained optimistic the team’s 14-2 non-league record was too much to ignore. 

“Getting through league was a little bit hard for us because we finished 0-12,” Clark said. “But our coach was so positive about it. He was positive about the fact that he knew we were gonna make the playoffs … He had like this whole chart with predictions, so it was just hope for us and we hope that we made it. We made it here, we’re playing solid now and we want to keep going. We’re 3-0 so far, so we’re gonna see what we can do in this next game. Hopefully we can win. I trust in my teammates and I trust in this program that we can get the dub and hopefully get the ’ ’ ’ship this year.” 

Castaic, a team with no league wins on the year and most expected to take another baby step as a program, is now heading to the CIF quarterfinals and will also continue its season in the state tournament.   

Thristian Lewis (5) knocks the ball loose from Godinez Fundamental defender at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I told my guys this is a new season,” Butler said. “Don’t worry about what happened in the past. We’ve been given another chance so let’s make the most of it, and that’s what we’ve been honing in on, just making the most out of every moment. Guys have stepped up tremendously and this is where we are right now.” 

The Coyotes will return home on Friday and host the Dunn Earwigs in the CIF semifinals.  

Castaic and Dunn tip off at 7 p.m. at Castaic High School for a spot in the CIF championship game. 

Giovanni Guardado (24) shoots against Godinez Fundamental at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Castaic head coach Dominique Butler celebrates a play against Godinez Fundamental at Castaic High on Tuesday, 021324. Dan Watson/The Signal

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