Though the Renaissance Academy basketball team recently won its first CIF Southern Section Division VI championship, many of the players haven't forgotten the last loss pinned on them.
That occurred Feb. 7, when Renaissance suffered a 57-56 Harbor League defeat to Ribet Academy. The Wildcats shook off the loss, having since won seven games in a row.
Third-seeded Renaissance (26-6) will get another crack at second-seeded Ribet (21-10) when the teams meet at 7 p.m. today in a CIF State Boys' Division V Championships Southern California Bracket semifinal contest at Pasadena City College, with Ribet as the home team.
The winner will face top-seeded St. Bernard or fifth-seeded Village Christian in the regional final at 3 p.m. Saturday at Colony High in Ontario. The championship contest will take place at 11:15 a.m. March 24 at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento against the winner from the Northern California Bracket.
The opportunity to face Ribet, which finished second in the Harbor League before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship contest, won't be taken lightly by the Wildcats.
"We had a 10-point lead against them the first time, and then we had a couple of turnovers and missed free throws late in the fourth quarter," said Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke, whose team posted an 83-58 second-round victory against 11th-seeded Rock Academy of San Diego on Saturday. "We learned that these are things we can control.
"I think both teams have vastly improved since that last game. You are going to have to focus on every play and every possession will be important."
In the first meeting, Renaissance held a 34-30 halftime advantage, before the Fighting Frogs took control.
Renaissance senior guard Troy Fontanilla said the Wildcats, who received 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks from guard Rick Hilaire against Rock, looked at a possible rematch against the Frogs when the state brackets were unveiled March 4.
"There's going to be that revenge factor," said Fontanilla, who registered 12 points and eight assists against Rock. "We have the mission that we want to beat them.
"It helps going in that we know them because we didn't know much about our first two opponents [in state]. We just have to do a better job of executing this time around."
Ribet Coach William Middlebrooks, a Glendale resident, said the Frogs, who are led by freshman guard Tyler Dorsey, need to put their victory against the Wildcats behind them.
"You can't look back on the regular season because it's a different situation now," said Middlebrooks, whose team notched an 80-54 second-round win against 10th-seeded California Lutheran on Saturday. "Sid's done a very good job with his team and they'll be ready.
"For us, it's about being hungry and being able to execute our game plan."
The semifinal matchups in the Northern California Bracket will feature top-seeded Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame against fifth-seeded Modesto Central Catholic and second-seeded Los Altos Hills Pinewood versus sixth-seeded Ross Branson, which defeated Renaissance in the state title contest in 2008.