Small schools make big strides

This is the second of eight editions in which the News-Press looks back at the area's 2010-11 seasons, school by school, before looking ahead at the year to come.

For the area's three small schools — Renaissance Academy, Holy Family and Glendale Adventist Academy — there proved to be something old and something new during the 2010-11 school year. Some of the teams produced winning records and won league championships for the first time.

The Renaissance Academy basketball team once again dominated. Holy Family tasted success in volleyball and softball and Glendale Adventist Academy moved into the Liberty League after previously competing in the Westside League.

Renaissance Academy won a Harbor League championship in boys' basketball, clinching it outright on the final night of the regular season and advanced to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals.

Holy Family took control early and reeled in an undefeated Horizon League title in volleyball and took second in softball.

At Glendale Adventist, the Cougars fielded a girls' soccer team for the first time and the basketball teams each participated in nonleague games for the second straight season at Staples Center.

Here is a recap of some of the respective schools' athletic highlights and events that unfolded during the past year:

•Sept. 14, 2010 — The Holy Family volleyball team begins its season with a 22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-17 nonleague road victory against Santa Clara. The Gaels receive 18 kills and 12 digs from Ashlee Sandoval.

•Oct. 5, 2010 — Holy Family's volleyball team kicks off Horizon League action with a 25-16, 25-13, 25-18 home win against L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus at Pacific Community Center. Aurora Aguirre leads the Gaels with nine kills.

•Oct, 19, 2010 — The Holy Family volleyball team receives 50 digs from Alicia Marquez and Ashlee Sandoval adds 13 kills and 21 digs to help Holy Family net a 27-29, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-12 Horizon League victory against Alverno at Pacific Park Community Center.

"Basically, there's one goal and that's to win the league championship," Bringas said. "This was our opportunity to be able to come back and take advantage of going after that goal.

"Our serving was aggressive and our people started clicking [after the second game]. We began pushing the play."

Holy Family sweeps the two-match season series against defending-league champion Alverno.

•Oct. 26, 2010 — Holy Family's volleyball team wins its first league championship with a 25-12, 25-22, 25-16 home win against Bishop Conaty-Loretto at Pacific Park Community Center. The Gaels get 21 assists from Rebecca Sanchez and 27 digs from Alicia Marquez.

"Getting up at 5 a.m. every day and going to practice is fun," Sanchez said. "It's really a great accomplishment to win league and it will sink in when the [league championship] banner goes up at school.

"We thought this could be our year because we basically had the same team as last year. We just had to go out there and work that much harder."

•Nov. 9, 2010 — The Holy Family volleyball team sees its season come to a close with a 16-25, 25-20, 26-24, 25-19 loss to Santa Clarita Christian in a CIF Southern Section Division IVA first-round match at Providence High. Holy Family finishes 12-13 and 8-0 in league.

"We made a lot of mistakes that cost us and we weren't down by much," said Holy Family Coach Robert Bringas, who gets 29 digs and eight kills from junior outside hitter Shanelle Agito and 26 digs from junior libero Alicia Marquez. "We were trying to overcome a two-or-three-point hump.

"I can't say that we didn't put up a fight. We fell short. A couple of points here or there was the difference."

•Nov. 30, 2010 — In a pool-play game in the 42nd annual Bulldog Tip-Off Classic at Burbank High, Renaissance Academy's Jessy Cantinol scores a game-high 12 points and grabs nine rebounds in a 49-25 win against Burroughs. Troy Fontanilla adds 10 points and Jasper Hwang has eight. The Wildcats' defense causes 24 turnovers.

"Our entire game is predicated around our defense," Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said. "But we have some new guys this year, and they are still learning how to do things."

•Dec. 9, 2010 — Holy Family's basketball team suffers a 42-40 nonleague loss against Mayfield in the closing seconds. Gayle Lachica leads the Gaels with 12 points.

•Dec. 16, 2010 — The members of the Glendale Adventist Academy girls' soccer team take to the field for their inaugural match and fall, 3-2, to Yeshiva in a Liberty League match at Airport Park in Santa Monica.

"It's just nice to see them go out there and get the opportunity to finally play," said Glendale Adventist Coach Lemar Sandiford, whose team fell behind, 3-0, before recording a pair of second-half goals. "After a while, practices can get a bit mundane and it was great to see the way we played.

"In the first half, we ran around a little bit and then we settled down. We tightened up, played well in the second half and we just ran out of time."

Karla Ferando and Melissa Yeghiazarian each score for the Cougars, who finish 2-9-1 overall and in league for fifth place.

•Dec. 23, 2010 — Holy Family's basketball team wraps up the Providence Tournament with a 70-40 victory against New Roads. Gayle Lachica finishes with 25 points, 10 rebounds, nine steals and six assists in the tournament's 15th-place contest.

•Jan. 11, 2011 — The Gaels, led by Gabby Diaz' game-high 19 points and Gayle Lachica's effort of 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, get a 55-32 Horizon League home win against L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Pacific Park Community Center.

"I think the press definitely helped us," said Holy Family Coach Ernest Siy, whose team forces 40 Sacred Heart turnovers. "It was definitely our strong suit tonight."

•Jan. 12 — Valerie Russo scores the lone goal for the Holy Family soccer team in a 4-1 Horizon League loss at Rio de L.A. Park. Holy Family finishes 0-11, 0-8 in league for fifth place.

•Jan. 16 — In a "War on the Floor Hoops One-Day Extravaganza" game at L.A. Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Renaissance gets 11 points apiece from Jessy Cantinol and Nick Troplant and 10 from Anthony Cost in a 52-50 victory against Brentwood. Troy Fontanilla contributes nine points for the Wildcats.

"We've been coming here for years," Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said. "This year, we're a young and rebuilding team and we need to do a better job of executing our offense moving forward."

•Jan. 18 — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team picks up one of its biggest nonleague wins of the season, as it gets 18 points and four steals from Jessy Cantinol in a 72-59 home win against defending CIF Southern Section Division V-A champion Besant Hill.

"We don't want to stop winning," said Nick Troplant, who leads the Wildcats with 21 points. "We don't want to lose any of our league games [either]."

•Jan. 28 — A Harbor League rivalry begins with the Renaissance Academy basketball team earning a 61-51 home win against Ribet Academy in the first of two head-to-head meetings.

Jessy Cantinol finishes with 20 points and Troy Fontanilla adds 16 to lead the Wildcats, who grab sole possession of first place.

"It was basically like a playoff game and you could sense the rivalry beginning," said Fontanilla, who adds four assists. "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."

•Jan. 31 — For the second straight season, the Glendale Adventist girls' and boys' basketball teams compete at Staples Center in nonleague games.

In the girls' game against former league rival San Gabriel Academy, Gille Nielsen scores eight points and adds a game-high 14 points in the Cougars' 32-20 nonleague victory.

"I want to box out first and rebound next," Nielsen said. "I take it as my duty to go in there and box out.

"Playing in Staples Center made me want to fight even more for rebounds. This is still a rival for us and this is a place where everybody wants to play."

Even Glendale Adventist Coach Stephen Nelson is awestruck playing in the large venue.

"It was a lot of fun playing here," he said. "You feel dwarfed because you are playing on a bigger floor."

In the boys' game against San Gabriel Academy, the Cougars suffer a 53-43 nonleague defeat.

"It was fun to play here and I've never been here before," said Glendale Adventist freshman center Matthew Allen, who finishes with 10 points and 10 rebounds. "They had a lot of size against us, and the guy I guarded [6-5 center Joshua Aiayi] was about [five inches] taller than me.

"We worked hard throughout the game, but we just didn't have the height. It was an experience of a lifetime to be able to play here."

The Cougars receive 10 points from Luke Vasquez and nine points and a game-high seven steals from Tyler Silva.

The boys' team finishes the season at 1-11 in the Liberty League for seventh place.

•Feb. 9 — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball teams clinches a share of the Harbor League crown with a 66-46 victory against Firebaugh. After playing the previous five seasons as a freelance team, it marks the first time Renaissance claims a league championship since 2006, when it competed in the American League.

"That's great for us to get back into the groove," Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said. "First things first and [winning league] was the goal. We wanted to do that."

•Feb. 11 — Anthony Cost makes two free throws in the final seconds to give the Renaissance Academy basketball team a 56-53 Harbor League road win against Ribet Academy and the league championship title outright.

With a noisy crowd trying to break his concentration, Cost makes both shots with 5.5 seconds left. Cost finishes with 11 points, a game-high 10 assists and three steals.

"The ambience of the crowd was crazy," said Cost, a native of France. "It's a good place to play and I knew that I could make both of those shots with the crowd yelling.

"We are happy to win league and now we can get focused on the playoffs."

•Feb. 16 — Backed by a strong offense and alert defense, the fifth-seeded Renaissance Academy basketball team opens the CIF Southern Section Division V-A playoffs with a convincing 57-37 victory against Calvary Chapel.

"Once we made our adjustments, we were OK," said Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke, who gets a team-high 17 points from Jessy Cantinol. "The things they liked doing, we wanted to take out."

The Glendale Adventist Academy girls' basketball team's postseason comes to a close with a 33-19 loss to host Tarbut V'Torah in a CIF Southern Section Division VI-AA first-round contest.

The Cougars finish 8-8, 4-6 in league for third place.

•Feb. 18 — The fifth-seeded Renaissance Academy basketball team picks up a 56-40 road victory against Mary Star of the Sea in CIF Southern Section Division V-A second-round game.

Jessy Cantinol leads the Wildcats with 14 points and Troy Fontanilla and Anthony Cost add 10 and nine, respectively.

•Feb. 17, 2011 — The Holy Family basketball team's postseason run proves to be a short one as the Gaels fall, 69-38, to sixth-seeded Archer in a CIF Southern Section Division V-A opening-round contest at Santa Monica City College.

The Gaels get 10 points apiece from Gayle Lachica and Jennifer Rodriguez. Gaby Diaz collects seven points for Holy Family, which finishes 8-12 and 6-2 in league.

"The goal at the beginning of the year for us is to win league and get a berth in the playoffs," Siy said. "We came up short with the league title, but we did make it to CIF.

"Now, we want to be able to get past the first round. I think we will have a shot at that next year."

•Feb. 22 — Things look good for the Renaissance Academy halfway through their CIF Southern Section Division V-A quarterfinal game against visiting fourth-seeded Pasadena Poly. However, things fall apart in the second half.

The Wildcats see their season come to a close with a 55-51 loss and finish 22-7, 8-0 in league.

Fifth-seeded Renaissance builds a 34-24 halftime lead, but struggles offensively in the second half. Renaissance musters just 17 second-half points.

"Their seniors just stepped up and we knew that they have a lot of shooters and experienced players," Cooke said. "We missed a couple of shots in the third quarter and it snowballed from there."

Renaissance gets a team-best 15 points and 16 rebounds from Cantinol.

•March 29 — The Glendale Adventist Academy boys' volleyball team gets three kills apiece from Anthony Murgas and Alex Santos in a 25-19, 25-15, 25-8 Liberty League loss against Providence.

"We only have two guys with any game experience," Glendale Adventist Coach Ken Vigilia said. "Today, we had some guys who were playing for the first time this season. We just need to get the experience, and we've been improving every game."

The Cougars go 0-14, 0-12 in league for sixth place.

•April 5 — Behind a dominant effort from pitcher Rachel Turner and some clutch hitting, the Holy Family softball team posts a 3-0 win in a Horizon League opener at the Glendale Spots Complex. The junior limits Sacred Heart of Jesus to three hits and strikes out 12 batters.

"I was trying to keep focused, so [our team doesn't] lose focus and people don't score runs and nobody panics," Turner said. "It's really important [to get a win today] because if we didn't beat this team, we wouldn't be able to probably get into CIF.

"I'm glad that everybody pulled together and we were able to win."

•April 7 — The Holy Family softball team gets seven strikeouts from pitcher Elena Lomeli to notch a 7-1 Horizon League win against Bishop Conaty-Loretto at the Glendale Sports Complex. Lomeli scatters five hits.

"We've alternated our pitchers so far because they are two who are qualified," Holy Family Coach Greg Ziomek said. "Both of them have been on in our first two league games and we are beating the teams we need to beat."

•May 5 — Seeking its first Horizon League championship, Holy Family's softball team falls short with a 2-0 loss to league champion San Gabriel Mission at the Glendale Sports Complex.

"When you take the two best teams in the league, it's like two rams hitting each other and anything can happen," Holy Family Coach Greg Ziomek said. "It could have gone either way for seven innings, but that was an amazing game."

•May 6 — Several members of the Holy Family girls' track and field team turn in impressive performances at the Horizon League Finals. Alejandra Hernandez runs the 100 meters in 13.1 seconds and 200 in 28 seconds and advances to the Division IV preliminaries at Carpinteria High after she goes undefeated in the 100 and 200 during the regular season.

Gladys Hernandez takes third in the 1,600 with a time of 6:23.03 and second in the 3,200 (14.26.9). Briana Russo finishes third in league in the 800 after running it in 3:02.3. Kristen Gaer places third in the 300 low hurdles with a time of 1:00.4.

•May 19 — For the second consecutive season, Holy Family's softball season comes to a close in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs. The Gaels fall to host Vasquez, 11-6, after placing second in the Horizon League.

Ashlee Sandoval finishes with two hits for the Gaels, who went 9-7, 6-2 in league. Sandoval hits a grand slam to account for a large chunk of the Gaels' scoring.

"The part I really liked was we never lost our character," Gaels Coach Greg Ziomek said. "We came back, we made it respectable."

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World