LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The schools are separated by less than 10 miles, and there's a potential rivalry budding up and down the Glendale (2) Freeway.
After spending the last several seasons competing in nonleague games, the Renaissance Academy and Ribet Academy boys' basketball teams are now both part of the Harbor League.
Renaissance and Ribet met Friday night in the first of two installments and Renaissance got the upper hand, as Jessy Cantinol finished with 20 points and Troy Fontanilla added 16 to lead the Wildcats to a 61-51 home victory.
Renaissance (16-6, 4-0) grabbed sole possession of first place, while the Frogs dipped to 11-1, 3-1 and into second place. The teams will meet in the regular-season finale Feb. 11 at Ribet.
"It was basically like a playoff game and you could sense the rivalry beginning," said Fontanilla, who added four assists and helped the Wildcats, ranked No. 6 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division 5-A poll, win their 11th game in a row. "Everybody from both teams were going hard to the basket and they are a tough team.
"We had a bunch of turnovers in the first half and then we were able to pull it together in the second half."
Renaissance limited Ribet, ranked No. 8 in the division along with Yeshiva and coached by Glendale resident William Middlebrooks, to six fourth-quarter points.
"We were able to buckle down by playing strong defense in the fourth quarter," veteran Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said. "We followed our game plan of being able to play strong defense and we made some big shots.
"We could have done better, but we are young and it's a learning tool for us to help us for the playoffs. Ribet is good and it's now a rivalry."
The Wildcats got a three-pointer from Fontanilla to take a 51-45 lead with 5:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. An offensive rebound and layup by Cantinol extended Renaissance's advantage to 56-48 with 2:46 left before a reverse layup by Ed Burrows made it 58-50 with 1:53 to play.
The teams were even in the first half. Renaissance owned a 31-30 halftime advantage after leading, 19-16, after the opening quarter.
Nick Troplant of Renaissance finished with seven points and a game-high six steals and teammate Gerrick Uneau collected eight rebounds and a game-high three blocks.
The Frogs, who are 5-2 in their last seven contests, received 10 points and three assists from Danovan Price and 12 points from King Brown.