LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — On its final play in regulation Thursday against visiting Mark Keppel, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team saw one opportunity after another to score a tiebreaking basket slip away.
Four minutes after the buzzer sounded to end the fourth quarter, the game had slipped away from the Wildcats, as well, in a 52-48 nonleague loss following an overtime period they would have preferred to avoid altogether.
With the shot clock off, the Wildcats were ensured the last shot of regulation, should they have the patience and wherewithal to set it up. Instead Renaissance filled the final 24 seconds with two missed shots and two turnovers, the second of which forced an overtime in which Jessy Cantinol's four points weren't enough to keep the Wildcats from falling to 5-5.
"They hit big shots, they're better than us, there's nothing I can say," Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke said. "We don't have the attitude or focus at the end of a game. We've let four or five games just slip away. We preach to them, but at this point, you would think [they would learn]."
With a spin move and a fade-away in the lane, Cantinol, who scored 13 points and pulled down 17 rebounds, gave Renaissance a three-point cushion with just under a minute left in the fourth quarter.
That's when things began to go south for the Wildcats, who committed an ill-advised foul on Keppel's Jordan Young at the other end while Young was in the act of attempting a shot from behind the three-point line.
"The foul on the three-point shot was ridiculous," Cooke said of the play that allowed the Aztecs to tie the game at 44 with 49 seconds left. "That was the key. It was a totally unnecessary foul. That killed us."
Still, Renaissance had a chance to control the outcome of the game with 24 seconds left. First, Nick Troplant, who led Renaissance with 14 points, misfired on a jumper, but Cantinol secured the rebound, leading to a timeout.
Ed Burrows then drove for a shot that was blocked out of bounds, but the Wildcats retained possession with 12 seconds left and again called for time. What followed, inexplicably, was a five-second violation.
"We ran a play and one guy waited and didn't line up where we were supposed to [as we] drew it up," Cooke said. "Nothing I can say about that. We just didn't execute."
Cantinol forced the Aztecs into their own turnover on an inbounds play, getting the ball back with four seconds, but regulation ended on a traveling call.
Keppel's Justin Young scored the first four points of overtime on a jumper and two free throws and the Aztecs never trailed thereafter.
For much of the game, Keppel did nothing but trail, as the Wildcats, who got eight points from Anthony Cost and seven points from Burrows, led from early in the first quarter until the Aztecs took their first lead 45 seconds into the fourth quarter.