Wildcats open playoffs strong

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Behind potent offense and strong defense, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team took care of business in the first round and is on to the next in the CIF Southern Section Division 5-A playoffs.

The fifth-seeded Wildcats played host to the Calvary Chapel Grizzlies in the opening round Wednesday night, brushed off a hot shooting start for their opponents, and cruised to a 57-37 victory.

"Once we made our adjustments, we were OK," said Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke, whose team advanced to the semifinals last season. "The things they liked doing, we wanted to take out."

The Harbor League-champion Wildcats (21-6) allowed just 13 second-half points, putting the game away in the third quarter, as they outscored the Grizzlies, 16-6, in the frame to take what proved to be an insurmountable 19-point lead going into the fourth.

Calvary Chapel (12-15), the No. 3 team from the Delphic League, made seven of nine shots in the first period, as it led for most of the frame and kept it close until giving up five points in less than a minute shortly before halftime, which quickly turned a four-point deficit into nine.

Despite causing 20 first-half turnovers, Cooke said he wanted to make adjustments for the second half and, after watching Calvary Chapel shoot 78% from the field in the opening stanza, the Wildcats clamped on the defense and forced the Grizzlies to shoot 10 of 34 the rest of the way.

"We just tried to follow the game plan," said Wildcats guard Troy Fontanilla, who finished with 15 points. "We wanted to cut down on the turnovers in the first half and we let their point guard get too much penetration."

The plan proved successful, as Calvary Chapel leading scorer Zachariah Santillana was held scoreless in the latter two periods and finished with a team-high seven points.

With his outside shooting, Fontanilla complemented the inside game well, most notably Jessy Cantinol, who led the team with 17 points.

"We wanted to get him the ball," Cooke said of Cantinol, who scored 13 in the first half. "We looked to drive, create some space, and get easy baskets inside."

Nick Troplent added eight points for the advancing Wildcats, who haven't lost a game since late-December and ran through their league undefeated.

They will face Mary Star of the Sea Friday night on the road.

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