Cats quick to strike

LOS ANGELES — With 16 wins to just two losses, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team would not appear to be a team that needs much fine-tuning.

After all, the Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division VI poll. But in order to sustain that ranking as Harbor League play approaches, the Renaissance coaching staff has stressed valuing possessions and out-hustling opponents.

Everything about the Wildcats' play, especially in the opening quarter, showed they heeded every bit of that advice.

Four minutes into the game, Renaissance had used five turnovers to race out to a double-digit lead as it thoroughly outplayed Brentwood the rest of the way in a 64-47 rout Saturday afternoon in the Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Basketball Classic at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies.

Jessy Cantinol notched 26 points and 11 rebounds and Nick Troplent (12 points) drilled four three-pointers to lead the Wildcats to their 11th straight win.

“We just did what our coaches told us to do,” Cantinol said. “We had good, open looks and our press [defense] forced them to lose the ball.

“We did good, but we could do better.”

Despite leading by as many as 20 points, the feeling Renaissance Academy still has room to grow was echoed among the coaching staff.

“It sounds cliche, but we talk about peaking at the right time,” associate head coach Rocky Moore said. “Right now, we're probably at 60% and we want to be able to hit our full potential as we get closer to the end of the season.”

By draining a foul shot with 2:00 left in the first quarter, Cantinol recorded his ninth point and helped the Wildcats build a 20-5 cushion.

Troy Fontanilla racked up three assists early in the second quarter, finding Troplent, Vince De Guzman and Cantinol open for three-pointers.

Then, it was Kevin Dinges who fed Fontanilla for one of his own from behind the arc for a 35-17 lead with 1:50 left in the half.

“We're jelling right now,” Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said. “We've got good ball movement and our chemistry is there. We're happy with how things are going, but we have to move on and continue improving defensively and executing.”

Cantinol erupted for another big quarter, pouring in 10 points in the third, as Renaissance Academy built a 52-34 advantage.

After Brentwood missed its first shot of the fourth quarter, Cantinol hauled down another board and took it coast-to-coast for a layup and foul. The senior forward completed the three-point play and went to the bench moments later with the game sealed.

Yonathan Naploean scored a team-high 14 points and Tra Holder added 12 for Brentwood (12-4), which lost its second consecutive game.

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