BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — The Burroughs High and Renaissance boys' basketball teams were both not at full strength when they met Friday night in a semifinal game of the Bell-Jeff Holiday Classic.
The Indians were missing four key players, three of whom were suspended after being involved in a scuffle during a tournament game Thursday against Royal and one who was injured. The Wildcats were missing their starting point guard and some other players were battling illness.
Renaissance built up a big lead and had to battle to hold off Burroughs, notching a 56-46 victory at Bell-Jeff.
The win puts the Wildcats (6-3) into the championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday against Bell-Jeff.
"Our best player's out and that's really tough on us," said Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke about starting sophomore point guard Marquise Mosley, who is sidelined with an ankle injury. "And the other guys being sick didn't help. Plus we're very young and we don't have a lot of seniors, so we're still learning."
Paced by 14 points from Martin Gaizavkas and 12 from Mett Der, the Wildcats built up an 18-point lead with 6:48 remaining in the third quarter on a bucket by Gaizavkas.
But Burroughs (6-1) kept fighting back and cut the deficit to just eight points on a basket with one second left in the third.
The Indians carried over that momentum into the early moments of the fourth quarter. When Austyn Dries sank a free throw, Burroughs was down by seven, 42-35.
"Our guys really battled, and that's all you can ask of them," said Burroughs Coach Adam Hochberg, whose team won the Maranatha Tournament two weeks ago. "When they got down they didn't give up, and I give them a lot of credit for that. They kept fighting.
"But it was the talent level that was the difference in the game. [Renaissance] executed when they needed to and we didn't. We just weren't able to take advantage of some of the situations that were given us."
Burroughs received 13 points from John Cutone.
The Wildcats took a 19-15 lead after the first quarter. Renaissance then went on a 12-2 run to begin the second quarter and held a 31-17 lead with 2:30 to go in the first half. Burroughs missed its first seven shots from the field in the second.
"It's hard for me to watch and not be able to play, but I think the guys did a good job and they got the win," Mosley said.