Wildcats dealt another tough defeat

MISSION HILLS — With 11.2 seconds left and possession of the ball, the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team had an opportunity to come full circle with its second-half rally.

The Wildcats had trailed El Camino Real by double digits as late as the third quarter, but surged the rest of the way to come to within one.

Out of the timeout, the Wildcats turned the ball over trying to find Jessy Cantinol open at the top of the three-point arc. They committed a quick foul and the Conquistadors drained both shots.

With 2.1 seconds remaining, Cantinol heaved a desperation shot from behind half-court, sending Renaissance Academy off with a 57-54 loss in the Alemany Showcase.

"We're right there, against a good team," Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke said. "What can I say? Tough loss."

Trailing, 30-22, at halftime after a seven-point second quarter, Renaissance Academy (19-5) outscored the Conquistadors, 32-27, in the second half.

Vince De Guzman (game-high 25 points), Cantinol (16 points) and freshman Kevin Dinges (11 points) combined to score 52 of the Wildcats' 54 points.

After making only one field goal in the second quarter, Renaissance Academy chipped away in the third quarter and came to within 44-43 on Cantinol's jumper with 6:30 to play.

The Conquistadors responded with a 7-0 spurt that pushed the lead to 51-43.

Down, 55-51, with 1:26 to play, De Guzman sank two foul shots. Coming out of a timeout on the next offensive possession, De Guzman buried a three-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to 55-54 with 35.2 seconds remaining.

Rather than commit a quick foul to get the ball back, the Wildcats pressured El Camino Real to turn the ball over.

Kelton Conway passed directly to Cantinol who darted toward his team's basket before Renaissance Academy called timeout.

"We felt we didn't have to foul," Renaissance associate head coach Rocky Moore said. "Let them panic. In many cases, they're going to commit an unforced error."

After the timeout, Troy Fontanilla got the ball on the left wing and threw it off a defender trying to find a wide-open Cantinol.

El Camino Real (16-7) drained both foul shots for a three-point cushion and the win.

"That's the way we're supposed to play [in the second half]," Cooke said of his team's rally. "We had some lapses defensively. We didn't know what we were supposed to do. But we settled down in the second half.

"We're playing all tough teams, so this is going to help us in the playoffs."

The Wildcats, ranked No. 1 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division VI poll, close out Harbor League play Tuesday against Ribet Academy.

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