ALTADENA — Ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs, the Renaissance Academy basketball team turned Wednesday night's first-round game into a tuneup and a statement.
"It's more about getting everybody involved and working on some different things," Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said after Renaissance registered an 83-15 victory against St. Monica Academy at Alta Loma Park. "We came in focused on what we needed to do and cleaning up some things because we had a tough stretch toward the end of the regular season.
"We know things will be tougher next game."
Renaissance will meet 16th-seeded Big Pine, which captured the Hi-Lo League championship, or Lancaster Bethel Christian in a second-round contest Friday at a site to be determined. St. Monica, which placed third in the International League under first-year Coach Michael Muto, finished at 12-11.
Renaissance, which finished third in the Harbor League, received a team-high 15 points from Gerrick Uneau and 12 from Jessy Cantinol, a reigning All-Area honoree.
Cooke liberally rotated his five-man units to get them all playing time.
"It's about getting them out there and learning to be even more disciplined and running different plays," said Cooke, whose team held St. Monica scoreless in the third quarter. "We wanted to work on our spacing some more and getting to run set plays."
Renaissance held a 24-4 lead after the first quarter and extended the advantage to 49-10 at halftime.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 13-0 lead before St. Monica's Blaise Inman got it on the board to cut the deficit to 13-2 with 4:02 left in the opening quarter.
A three-point play by Uneau extended Renaissance's lead to 35-4 with 5:30 remaining in the second quarter.
St. Monica snapped a scoreless drought of 13:13 when Peter Goodwin made a three-pointer to bring it to within 76-13 with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter.
Muto said St. Monica had a difficult time matching up against the more athletic and experienced Wildcats.
"They are a real good team and there are a lot of teams who couldn't stay with them," said Muto, who received a team-high seven points from Inman. "We were able to get some playoff experience.
"We knew this was going to be a tough draw. We had a great season and they played hard until the end."