GLENDALE — As the newest residents in the Harbor League this season, it didn't take long for Jessy Cantinol and his Renaissance Academy basketball teammates to make themselves feel right at home.
With Cantinol leading the way, the Wildcats, who had been a freelance team for the previous five years, ran the table in league to win their first league title since they were in the American League in 2005-06.
For his efforts, the junior center was named Harbor League Most Valuable Player, as voted on by the league's coaches.
Cantinol averaged 17 points and 10.7 rebounds per game on the season and averaged 18 points in two meeting with the Wildcats' toughest league competitor, Ribet Academy, which won the Division 6-A title the year before.
"It's something I don't think we expected, but it's a pleasant surprise," said Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke, whose team went 22-7 with an 8-0 mark in league and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5-A playoffs. "He stepped up when he had to and I think he's realizing — he always had a little bit of doubt — he didn't really understand what he could be.
"Hopefully, this will propel him, I think he's going to have a really good year next year."
Renaissance also landed two players on the all-league second team in senior point guard Ed Burrows and sophomore shooting guard Anthony Cost.
A tenacious defender and a reliable floor general, Burrows averaged nine points, 6.3 assists and two steals per game while providing a stable senior influence for a youthful squad.
"He was a leader out there," Cooke said of Burrows, one of the few holdovers, along with Cantinol, from Renaissance's CIF semifinalist team the previous season. "His defense was underestimated and I think he really, really did a good job."
Cost averaged 11 points per game in his first year of varsity basketball as a transfer student from France.
"That was a good year for him," Cooke said. "For just playing one year, he did a really good job.
"I'm proud of the guys, they kind of came out of nowhere and did some really good things this year," Cooke said. "I don't know if they could play any better throughout the year."