Wildcats still in fine form against Aztecs

ALHAMBRA — The Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team devised a game plan to exploit its opponent's size disadvantage and executed it on the way to a convincing nonleague victory Tuesday night.

Led by senior forward Jessy Cantinol's 20 points, the Wildcats received easy baskets inside, as well as good looks outside, while the defense hounded the Mark Keppel Aztecs to a poor shooting night.

The result was a 68-42 triumph that marks the eighth straight win for the Wildcats, who have also won 10 of their last 11 under Coach Sid Cooke, who said the team is starting to come together.

"We are where we want to be," said Cooke, whose squad is coming off winning the Nogales Tournament last week and improved to 13-2 overall with the win over the host Aztecs. "Early on we weren't, but we're coming along now."

"Size is what we focused on. We wanted to keep going to Jessy and prove a point. The last two times we played them, we were missing some big guys and the game went down to the wire."

The Wildcats offense, focused around Cantinol, made 14 of 29 field goals in the first half to take a 33-19 lead at halftime. Nicolas Troplent and Vince De Guzman combined for 17 points in the half, as they benefited from open looks due to the Aztecs (10-7) defense putting a second defender on Cantinol all night.

On the other end, the Wildcats defense forced the Aztecs into tough shots, as they went eight for 23 and committed nine turnovers after two quarters.

Cantinol and De Guzman kept up the successful inside-outside game as they accounted for 15 of the team's 17 third-quarter points.

As a team, the Wildcats continued their solid shooting, making eight of 14 attempts in the frame to extend a lead they held all game to 50-32 after three.

"That was our game plan — to work high-low," said De Guzman, who finished with 14 points. "We knew they would double team, and Jessy was patient to find the open guys."

Rick Hilaire scored eight points in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats, who held a double-digit lead from the end of the first quarter until the final buzzer.

Renaissance Academy struggled early, making two of its first eight shot attempts, but found the rhythm and ended the quarter shooting seven of nine to take a 20-7 lead after eight minutes of play. The Aztecs wouldn't get closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Cameron Wong led the way for Mark Keppel in the scoring department with 16 points.

Wong was one of the lone bright spots for Mark Keppel, who couldn't do much about the Wildcats' size and defense.

"Everyone is buying into what we're doing," Cooke said of his defense, which forced the Aztecs to shoot just 35% from the field. "Everyone is rotating."

Renaissance Academy continues the nonleague road portion of its schedule, traveling to play Chino Saturday in the San Fernando Valley Showcase.

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