Wildcats wind up winners despite struggles early

BURBANK — Nobody could blame the members of the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team for feeling good about themselves coming off an undefeated run in the Oaks Christian Shootout over the weekend.

But quality wins over Thousand Oaks, Cleveland, Alemany and the very same West Ranch squad they would face in the Burbank Summer League on Tuesday afternoon perhaps went a bit too much to the collective heads of the Renaissance Wildcats.

"We got big-headed today — I had a feeling this was going to happen," Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said. "They already beat this team, so [they were] lethargic. They're thinking we've arrived, and we haven't."

Cooke's frustration wasn't so much based on the outcome of the game — which Renaissance won, 42-35, on the strength of suffocating full-court defense and eight points from guard Anthony Cost in the final minutes — as it was on the lackadaisical play and poor shooting that characterized much of the game up until the late surge.

Renaissance made just seven of 28 attempts from the field in the first half, en route to an overall field-goal shooting rate of 25%, and saw West Ranch pull away to a 13-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.

"We just came out flat," Cooke said. "I didn't think we played well."

West Ranch would run the lead as high as 17-6 with three minutes elapsed in the second quarter before Jessy Cantinol (seven points, 14 rebounds and seven steals) snapped Renaissance's four-plus minute scoring drought with a putback and the foul.

But after turning the ball over 10 times in the first half and being outrebounded, 22-18, Renaissance still trailed, 17-13, going into halftime.

Nick Troplent, who finished with six points and five steals, hit a pull-up jumper at the 8:00 mark of the third quarter to tie the game at 17, but Renaissance wouldn't score again for another seven minutes. Fortunately for Renaissance, West Ranch had an abysmal shooting quarter too, and Cost's three-pointer with 1:00 left in the third tied the game at 20.

West Ranch fortified its lead at 25-20 going into the fourth quarter, but Renaissance pulled ahead, 28-27, on four straight points by Cantinol and extended its run to start the fourth to 12-2 on back-to-back hoops by Cost (11 points, four steals) to go up, 32-27, with 3:00 left.

Renaissance forced eight West Ranch turnovers in the final period, including a steal by Troplent and subsequent pass up the court to Nick Fontanilla, who sank two free throws to make it 34-27 en route to finishing with eight points.

"We played really good 'D' in that last sequence and we made a run," Cooke said. "That's the way we're supposed to play defense. I just think we were lethargic when we came out. We had a big tournament, but that doesn't mean anything.

"But we got the win, so maybe that's a lesson learned."

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