Wildcats wary of state upset

Following the first round of games in the CIF State Boys' Division V Basketball Championships Southern California bracket, Renaissance Academy Coach Sid Cooke wasn't surprised with some of the upsets that took place.

If anything, it made Cooke that more demanding of his players in the Wildcats' quest to win the state tournament for the first time after winning the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship.

"Nothing surprises me because it's state and anything can happen," said Cooke, whose third-seeded Wildcats (25-6) will meet 11th-seeded Rock Academy (19-10) from the San Diego Section in a second-round game at 7 p.m. today at Pasadena City College. "You don't know much about these teams and you have to be able to settle in quickly or you can be beat."

Renaissance opened the playoffs Wednesday with a 79-51 win against 14th-seeded Calexico Vincent Memorial. Rock Academy posted a 51-50 upset road win against sixth-seeded View Park from the Los Angeles City Section.

Rock Academy's win confirmed Cooke's belief about more potential upsets popping up.

"There are no easy games," Cooke said. "Even in our first game, we had some trouble and our bench came through.

"It's always going to be about matchups. It's about court awareness and helping out on defense. We had some guys slip through the cracks against us in the first game, so we also have to be more tough mentally."

The Wildcats, who took third in the Harbor League, received a big boost from their bench. Renaissance's reserves combined to score 35 points, providing the Wildcats additional options in case they are involved in more close contests.

Renaissance starting guard Vince De Guzman said the Wildcats, who got a team-high 17 points Jessy Cantinol, came out a bit flat against Vincent Memorial.

"In the first half, we were a bit nervous and we didn't make shots," said De Guzman, whose team held a 31-22 halftime advantage. "We played better in the second half and tightened things up on offense and defense.

"We want to keep the momentum going that we got from winning CIF and the way we played in the second half [Wednesday]. Anything can happen in state and the teams are in it for a reason. They are all good."

Rock Academy fell, 46-36, to El Cajon Foothills Christian in the CIF San Diego Section Division V title game.

The Warriors are led by the brother combination of Jay and Jonathan Dutra, both guards.

"I know those two can score a lot of points," Cooke said.

The Renaissance-Rock Academy winner will take on second-seeded Ribet Academy, the Harbor League champion, or 10th-seeded California Lutheran, who the Wildcats beat in the Division VI championship contest March 3, in a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The other second-round games in the Southern California bracket will feature top-seeded St. Bernard against eighth-seeded Fresno Christian and fourth-seeded Mission Prep against fifth-seeded Village Christian.

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