ENCINO — Two quarters of a prolonged team-wide shooting slump weren’t enough to derail the Renaissance Academy basketball team’s run at a CIF title.
And, on Tuesday night, one quarter of brilliance turned out to be all it took to get past host Holy Martyrs Armenian, 56-43, in a CIF Southern Section Division V-A quarterfinal playoff game.
Consistency has been elusive for the Wildcats (20-8) during this playoff run, and the first half of Tuesday’s win saw the Wildcats labor to score 23 points. Renaissance, which was led by 14 points from Gill Tacita and 13 apiece from Dushon Carter and Bryan Bourgeois, scored 21 points in the third quarter alone, including an 11-0 run inside the first four minutes to all but put the game away.
“We started off slow,” Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke said. “Some days we play great and some days we just don’t. It’s hard for me to figure it out.
“If they had had one or two more guys on that team who could finish, we would have been in trouble.”
Renaissance, which will host fourth-seeded Sierra Canyon in the semifinals at an alternate site hosted by Renaissance on Friday, needed a five-point burst inside the final minute of the second quarter just to get four points of separation at halftime.
“The shooting, I don’t know what happened, but it was off,” Tacita said. “We had to go to the basket.”
Wildcats guard Ed Burrows (11 points) scored on a give-and-go from Bourgeois, who sank a jumper from the corner on the next possession to give Renaissance a 27-19 lead with 6:46 left in the third.
Holy Martyr’s Nareg Kopooshian made a deep three-pointer to cut the lead to 27-22 15 seconds later, but those would be the last Armens points for a devastating 2:30 span.
Shots that stubbornly refused to go down for the Wildcats in the first half began to fall like dominoes.
Bourgeois, who finished with eight rebounds and four blocks, hit a three-ball from the corner before Carter pulled up and nailed a three in transition.
Renaissance capped the run with a layup on a fast break by Burrows to go up, 38-22, at the 4:00 mark and led by 18 going into the fourth quarter after Bourgeois closed scoring in the third by blocking a shot, controlling the rebound and taking it the length of the floor to the basket.
Throughout the first half, the Wildcats kept the game close by challenging and blocking shots whenever the Armens (20-6) ventured into the paint, as Renaissance ran its offense with patience, finding the open man and creating a good share of open looks.
But they couldn’t finish, missing from distance, mid-range and around the basket.
Holy Martyrs took advantage of the slump, as well as on Tacita picking up his third foul in the second quarter, tying the game at 18 just before halftime.
“We just had to relax,” said Cooke, who got eight rebounds and four blocks from center Jessy Cantinol. “It was two bad calls on Gill. [Holy Martyrs] made some shots and got their crowd in the game.”
Renaissance pushed the lead as high as 20 several times in the fourth quarter, including once on a dunk by Carter inside the final three minutes that made it 51-31.
But the Wildcats’ 12 fourth-quarter points were their second lowest quarterly output behind only a seven-point first, leaving the third quarter as the definitive high point.
So just how good could the Wildcats be if they could sustain their third-quarter play?
“[We could be] good, very good,” Tacita said. “But we’ve gotta do it. We’ve gotta practice that and get better.”