BURBANK — The summer league schedule figures to provide daily lessons for the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team as it works to integrate new players and prepare for the upcoming school year.
On Tuesday, the Wildcats learned firsthand the importance of taking care of the ball late in games, as a rash of turnovers in the fourth quarter saw Royal shave eight points off a nine-point deficit in a matter of seconds.
But a clutch free throw by Jessy Cantinol, who led the Wildcats with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, followed by a critical stop at the other end, allowed Renaissance to hold on for a 50-48 win in a Burbank Summer League game at Burbank High.
"We have a lot of young teammates and they didn't know what to do with the ball," Cantinol said of the late collapse by the Wildcats, who turned the ball over a total of 25 times in the game.
Renaissance, which led by as many as 13 points late in the first half, went up, 49-40, with 2:30 left on a three-pointer by Nick Troplent, who finished with 12 points.
Royal responded with a quick three of its own followed by a layup off a steal in the backcourt and finally a three-pointer off another steal to cut the lead to 49-48 with just over 1:30 left in the game.
"We were telling them to step back, widen out and make them come to you," Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke said of his team's offensive approach. "They did it a couple times and they got a three. It's a learning experience because they were trapping, but we wanted our guys to expand a little bit more. When we did it, we got a shot, but then we started trying to rush it."
Still down one, Royal had the ball looking to take the lead, but Wildcats guard Troy Fontanilla came up with a steal and found Cantinol under the basket, where he drew a foul and sank one of two to double the lead with less than a minute left.
Although it struggled to hold onto the ball at times, Renaissance had no trouble taking the ball from the Highlanders. The Wildcats built a lead early behind 10 first-half steals and finished with 17 for the game, led by Thierry Frederic's six and Cantinol's four.
Frederic intercepted a pass in the backcourt and streaked to the rim for a layup to cap a 12-3 Renaissance run to open the game and the Wildcats closed the first quarter up, 20-9. Cantinol scored in the post on a feed from Frederic midway through the second quarter and threw down a dunk on the break off a Frederic steal moments later to put the Wildcats up, 26-13.
Royal cut right into the Wildcats' 30-20 halftime lead with back-to-back three-pointers to open the third quarter and trailed by only three heading into the fourth quarter.