Another wild run for Cats

GLENDALE — This is the second of eight consecutive editions in which the News-Press looks back at the area's 2009-10 seasons, school by school, before looking ahead at the year to come.

After somewhat of a down year across the board in 2008-09, the area's small schools reaffirmed some of their proudest traditions of athletic success and began to write some new ones.

Renaissance Academy boys' basketball returned from a season with no playoffs to once again finish among the top teams in its division and make its second semifinal contest in three years.

Holy Family volleyball made it back to the playoffs, as did the girls' basketball and boys' volleyball teams from Glendale Adventist Academy.

Meanwhile, programs like the Holy Family softball and track and field teams experienced a revival, with the former making a playoff appearance and the latter sharing its first league title in 18 years.

The good, the bad, the disappointments and the triumphs are relived as they happened here:

Sept. 11, 2009 — The Holy Family volleyball team starts the season off with a 25-21, 27-25, 22-25, 18-25, 15-9 nonleague victory against Providence.

Ashlee Sandoval leads the Gaels with 16 kills and six digs.

Sept. 15, 2009 — The Glendale Adventist Academy girls' volleyball team starts its season off with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-9 nonleague loss at the hands of Orangewood Academy.

Sept. 26, 2009 — The Holy Family cross-country team opens the season at the Bell-Jeff Invitational at Griffith Park.

Sept. 29, 2009 — A 3-2 nonleague win over Orangewood Academy snaps a seven-match losing skid for the Glendale Adventist girls' volleyball team.

It will be the only win for the Cougars, who go on to finish the season 1-15.

Oct. 20, 2009 — A sweep at the hands of league-champion Alverno drops the Holy Family volleyball to 3-2 in the Horizon League, putting a damper on it's hopes of winning the league title.

Oct. 28, 2009 — Sandoval notches nine kills and 20 digs to lead the Holy Family volleyball team to a 25-16, 25-18, 25-17 Horizon League victory against visiting San Gabriel Mission that clinches second place in league and a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division 4-A playoffs.

"We knew that we had to get second place in league," said libero Alicia Marquez, who finished with 15 digs. "We knew that [San Gabriel Mission] was also fighting for second place. We are happy to get into the playoffs."

Nov. 4, 2009 — Gladys Hernandez of Holy Family advances to the CIF preliminaries at the Horizon League cross-country final meet at Eaton Canyon Park, where the Gaels wrap up a fourth-place finish in league.

Nov. 10, 2009 — Despite the best efforts of Sandoval, Denise Patino and Gayle Lachica, the Holy Family volleyball team falls, 25-22, 25-19, 25-18, to Santa Clara in the opening round of the Division 4-A playoffs.

"You always want go far in the playoffs and it's a disappointment when you don't," Coach James Jimenez said. "But I think we had a good season and the good thing for us is that we only lose one senior."

The team ends its season at 17-7.

Nov. 4, 2009 — Hernandez of Holy Family advances to the CIF preliminaries at the Horizon League cross-country final meet.

Nov. 30, 2009 — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team opens its season with a 60-58 victory over Agoura in the Burbank Tournament behind 25 points from guard Gill Tacita.

Holy Family kicks off its soccer season with a 5-0 nonleague loss at L.A. Baptist.

Dec. 1, 2009 — The Glendale Adventist girls' basketball team opens its season with a 37-32 home win over Ribet Academy behind 12 points from guard Michelle Eclar.

Across town, the boys' basketball team opens its season with a 70-58 nonleague loss at Providence.

Holy Family basketball also opens its season on this day with a 46-36 loss to Viewpoint, the first of five consecutive defeats to begin the campaign.

Dec. 9, 2009 — Brandon Lewis scores 13 points to lead the Glendale Adventist boys' basketball team to its first win of the season, 50-47, over Citrus Valley in the Spartan Classic.

Dec. 14, 2009 — The boys' and girls' basketball teams from Glendale Adventist get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a game on the court at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles.

Both teams are defeated in their Westside League games against Redlands Adventist Academy, but take home some positive memories that figure to last much longer.

"It's a pretty amazing thing," Eclar, who contributed 14 points, six rebounds and four steals in her team's 29-26 loss, said. "It's a lot bigger and we weren't used to the size of the court."

The boys' team loses, 55-54, despite 15 points from Ghassan Abdul-Karim.

"It was a special experience being able to play here," Cougars guard Luke Vazquez said. "We enjoyed it and it's a nice game to be in."

Dec. 21, 2009 — The Holy Family basketball team allows just five points in a 44-5 nonleague win over East Valley in the Pioneer shootout.

Dec. 30, 2009 — With a 51-49 win over Damien in the championship game, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team captures the Nogales Tournament.

Tacita scores 16 points and is named tournament Most Valuable Player, while Bryan Bourgeois adds 14 points.

"We're jelling with all these new kids and young guys," said Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke, whose team notched victories over Nogales, La Serna and Ayala to reach the title game. "Those are all Division II teams and we're in [Division] V-A, so hopefully we can make noise."

Jan. 4 — Abdul-Karim scores a team-high 15 points to lead the Glendale Adventist boys' basketball team to a 61-25 league win over Highland Hall, its third in a row.

Jan. 13 — The Holy Family soccer team notches its first win of the season, 4-0, over Bishop Conaty-Loretto in a Horizon League road match.

Jan. 14 — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team falls, 70-57, to former playoff nemesis Price in a battle of CIF No. 1-ranked squads.

Tacita scores 21 points for the Wildcats, who were ranked atop Division V-A at the time. Price entered with the No. 1 ranking in Division IV-AA.

Jan. 23 — In a meeting of two of the top five CIF-ranked teams in Division V-A, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team loses to Besant Hill, 52-46, at the War on the Floor Invitational at El Camino Real High.

With Tacita sidelined by an injury, Bourgeois leads the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Dushon Carter scores 14 points.

Feb. 2 — The Holy Family basketball team beats league opponent San Gabriel Mission, 45-42, in overtime to clinch third place in league with two regular-season games left. Lachica leads the way with 12 points, including the game-tying shot with 11 seconds left to send it to overtime.

"I extended my hand, saw the shot hit the glass and then go in," Lachica said. "It's good that we are going to the playoffs."

Behind Finster Paul's 11 points, the Glendale Adventist boys' basketball team outlasts San Gabriel Academy, 43-42, in a league game.

Feb. 4 — A win 42-29 league win over Armenian General Benevolent Union runs the Glendale Adventist girls' basketball team's win streak to four straight.

The Holy Family soccer team concludes a 2-17 season with a 2-5 league mark in a 2-1 league loss at Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Later, Rossy Gutierrez, Melissa Franco and Monet Estrada are named to the all-league second team.

Feb. 11 — The Glendale Adventist girls' basketball team defeats host New Community Jewish in its regular-season finale, 25-14. The Cougars finish 8-11 and 5-5 in league for third place to qualify for the Division V-A playoffs.

"The idea for playoffs wasn't really in the girls' minds," Cougars co-Coach Amy Banquerigo, who took over the program midseason, said. "After we came in, we got a lot more strict on them. They have actually improved a lot."

Meanwhile, the boys' basketball team concludes its season with a 38-36 loss at New Community Jewish to finish 8-15 and 4-8 in league for fifth place.

Feb. 12 — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team concludes its regular season with a 54-46 win over Mission Prep. At 17-8, the Wildcats are named the No. 1 seed in the Division V-A playoffs two days later.

Feb. 17 — A 63-36 first-round home win over Arrowhead Christian Academy gets the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team's playoff run going, although Coach Cooke is hardly thrilled with the team's slow start in the first half.

"None of these kids have ever been to the playoffs and I don't think they realized that you've gotta be a little bit more serious and you've gotta come out ready," said Cooke, who got 21 points from Carter and 18 from Tacita.

Feb. 18 — Despite 25 points from Eclar and 10 from Clarissa David, the Glendale Adventist girls' basketball team is eliminated in the first round of the Division V-A playoffs, 61-51, by Aquinas to go 8-12 on the year.

"We came back and we made a run on them," Banquerigo said.

The Holy Family basketball team also suffers a first-round defeat in the V-AA playoffs, losing, 46-31, to host Providence and concluding its season at 8-14 after going 5-3 in league for third place.

"This is the first time [since 2006] that we have made the playoffs," Coach Ernest Siy said. "I'm very proud of them. They battled back and they never gave up."

Shabby Talab and Jennifer Fisher are later named to the all-league first team, while Lachica and Gaby Diaz make the second team.

Feb. 19 — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team goes on the road to defeat Chadwick, 63-42, in the second round of the Division V-A playoffs behind 19 points and nine rebounds from Jessy Cantinol.

"We will get better, but we still haven't played our best ball yet," Cooke said.

Feb. 22 — After a prolonged first-half shooting slump, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team uses a strong third quarter to stop Holy Martyr's Armenian on the road in the Division V-A quarterfinals, 56-43, and reach the semifinals for the second time in three years.

"The shooting, I don't know what happened, but it was off," said Tacita (14 points). "We had to go to the basket."

Feb. 26 — A tentative start once again hurts the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team, but this time the Wildcats can't recover in time, as they lose, 64-57, to Sierra Canyon in the semifinals of the Division V-A playoffs to finish the season at 20-9.

Carter scores 18 points to lead Renaissance, which does manage to claw back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to get within two in the final 2:00.

"We felt like as long as we kept playing defense and kept scoring the ball we would be able to come back," Carter said.

Tacita and Bourgeois are later named to the All-CIF Division V-A first team, while Carter gets a second-team nod.

March 5 — The Holy Family softball team begins the season with a 10-6 nonleague win over Oakwood.

March 9 — The Glendale Adventist boys' volleyball team opens its season with a 25-15, 25-10, 25-18 Westside League win over New Jewish Community.

That win, along with a victory in the Cougars' second match, would later be forfeited because of an ineligible player.

April 13 — A 15-4 mercy-rule win over Bishop Conaty-Loretto provides the Holy Family softball team with its first Horizon League victory.

April 21 —Eshban Lee and Finster Paul have 11 kills apiece for the Glendale Adventist boys' volleyball team in a 17-25, 25-15, 25-15, 26-24 league win over West Valley Christian.

April 23 — The Holy Family track and field team clinches a share of its first Horizon League title since 1992 with a 75-25 quad meet win over Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Francis High.

"This is a very nice feeling, especially after only three years to have accomplished this," said Coach Robert Bringas, whose team shared the crown with San Gabriel Mission. "The girls were very dedicated this year to winning and competing."

April 29 — Needing to win its last three league games to make the playoffs, the Holy Family softball team begins to make its postseason push with an 11-1 win over Bishop Conaty-Loretto.

Rachel Turner pitches a two-hit complete game.

May 7 — The Holy Family track and field team's season ends in the CIF prelims at Cantwell Sacred Heart, as the league co-champion Gaels do not advance any athletes to the CIF finals.

"A lot of this year was the girls coming together, it was very much a team effort," Bringas said. "We ended well, we came home with a lot of league patches and medals and such and a team trophy is always good."

May 11 — Paul records six kills and Jordan Khoe adds five for the Glendale Adventist boys' volleyball team in a 25-10, 25-10, 25-13 loss to host Summit in the first round of the Division V playoffs to finish the year 4-8 and 4-4 in league for third place.

"We kind of hit a cold streak after [our first two matches], but were able to turn it around and start playing well at the end of the year," Cougars Coach Hugo Gomez said of his team, which won four of its last five regular-season matches to make the playoffs. "Unfortunately, we went up against a really good team [in the first round], so you couldn't see the progress we made."

Lee is later named to the all-league first team, while Khoe makes the second team.

May 13 — The Holy Family softball team completes a two-game sweep of Sacred Heart of Jesus with an 18-1 blowout win. With the two wins, the Gaels finish 4-4 in league for third place and qualify for the Division VI wild-card round.

May 18 — A 10-1 loss to Baptist Christian in the wild-card round of the Division VI playoffs ends the Holy Family softball team's season at 10-11.

"It's the first time in a while that Holy Family has made the playoffs," Coach Greg Ziomek said. "The team is still learning the ropes. We have eight players back next season and we expect to move up in the league standings and have a winning record."

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