BURBANK — It’s been a tough go for Sid Cooke in trying to put the pieces together.
With key players having graduated or transferred, the Renaissance Academy basketball coach has found mixing and matching to be a painful process with a lineup that’s been decimated by injuries.
“You can see it on the court, but I can live with it,” said Cooke, whose team suffered a 71-55 loss to View Park Prep on Saturday afternoon in the seventh-place contest of the 40th annual Bulldog Tip-Off Classic at Burbank High. “I’m happy with the effort, so I can’t complain.”
Renaissance (1-3) had senior guard Matt Raya and senior guard/forward Derrick Simms, who haven’t fully recovered from their injuries sustained before the season began. Raya and Simms did all they could while the Wildcats tried to stop View Park Prep (2-2).
It marked the first time that Renaissance and View Park Prep met since March 4, when the Wildcats posted a 50-46 road win against the Knights in the second round of the CIF Division V State Championships before advancing to the tournament’s title contest in Sacramento.
The Knights provided a bit of payback. They limited the Wildcats, who matched their loss total from a year ago, to 29 second-half points.
Raya, bothered by a sore ankle, finished with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds and five assists.
“We were looking to come in here before the tournament began and make it three in a row,” said Raya, whose team had won the Bulldog Tip-Off Classic the previous two years. “It just didn’t work out.
“We can’t use injuries as an excuse. Derrick and I are the guys who have to spark [the team]. It’s hard right now because we have a lot of young guys. They did what they could, and hopefully we’ll learn from this.”
Raya cut View Park Prep’s lead to 48-40 in the third quarter when he tapped in a missed shot at the buzzer while falling down.
View Park Prep spread out its scoring, led by 19 points from Jonathan Smith and 18 from Joseff Singleton. Singleton added 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
The Wildcats had 13 offensive rebounds, converting those into easy baskets against the undersized Wildcats.
“We’ve got to do a better job at boxing out,” Cooke said. “That’s something we are going to have to go back to at practice and work more at.”
The Wildcats had two players reach double figures in scoring. Junior guard Dushon Carter paced Renaissance with a team-high 16 points. Simms finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats, who got six points and a team-best four steals from Bryan Bourgeouis.
Renaissance, which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division III-A semifinals last season, will next compete at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against West Torrance in a first-round game of the Beverly Hills Tournament.
CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or email@example.com.