Exhausted from partaking in nine playoff games in less than five weeks, Vince De Guzman reflected on a historical season in which the Renaissance Academy basketball team won the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship.
The Wildcats nearly returned to the Division V state final for the first time since 2008, but fell, 58-57, to Village Christian on Saturday in the Southern California regional championship game.
Though still disappointed from the outcome, De Guzman received a measure of good news Monday when the CIF Southern Section office unveiled him as the Division VI Player of the Year.
The CIF Southern Section Division office unveiled its first teams for the 12 divisions Monday. It marked the first time that De Guzman, a senior wing/point guard, picked up the prestigious award.
"I wish we were moving on to state, but this award definitely means a lot to me," De Guzman said. "It was a goal of mine to try to get the award and I knew I could do it.
"I had to work out hard in the gym. When my team needed me, it was a matter of being able to step it up and help them out in anyway I could."
De Guzman was one of eight local players to earn All-CIF honors. Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke was named the Division VI Coach of the Year for the first time after guiding the Wildcats to a record of 27-7. Jessy Cantinol and Troy Fontanilla of Renaissance were picked to the first and second teams, respectively.
Christian Misi and Davis Dragovich of Crescenta Valley High earned first- and second-team honors, respectively, in Division I-A. Emerson Castaneda of St. Francis earned a spot on the Division III-A second team. Flintridge Prep's Kory Hamane and Robert Cartwright were named to the Division V-A first and second teams, respectively.
Cooke said De Guzman, who averaged 15.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, proved to be a durable and dependable player on both sides of the court.
"He's one of the best people that you are going to find," Cooke said. "He doesn't complain and he's always listening in order to get better.
"He had a lot of big games for us. Sometimes, he would get a lot of points. Other games, he'd grab some rebounds or do something else that would help us win."
Cooke said he was honored to receive recognition from his peers within the division.
"I feel fortunate, as there are a lot of good coaches out there," Cooke said. "This goes to the team because I had a lot of good players.
"It's a group of players who listened right away and got the message [about trying to win CIF]. My assistants helped out, too, and there are a lot of people to thank."
Misi picked up All-CIF honors for the second straight season. The senior center was a focal point as the Falcons took second in the Pacific league and reached the semifinals for the first time since 1994. The Falcons also qualified for the Division I state playoffs.
"To get on the first team is an amazing honor and accomplishment," Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian said. "Getting back-to-back All-CIF selections is a tribute to all the hard work Christian has put in to become the individual and player he is now."
Hamane, who was tabbed the Prep League's Most Valuable Player, helped the Rebels win the league championship for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons. The senior guard averaged a team-high
15 points per game.
"We have a nice tradition of players who have come through the program and earned All-CIF," Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. "He's learned from the guys who were in front of him and become a fine player.
"He was able to drive the net for a basket or knock down a three-pointer. It's one final accolade for him."
Cantinol proved to be a pillar for the Wildcats throughout the season. The senior center averaged 15.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for Renaissance Academy.
"He's been around here and always worked hard," Cooke said. "He's a lot like Vince in that he could score inside the paint and also dribble well for a big guy."
Castaneda, a senior guard, averaged 16.5 points per game for the playoff-bound Golden Knights. He scored 20 or more points in 14 games.
"With Emerson, he stood out and gave us a lot of big baskets," St. Francis co-Coach Ray O'Brien said.
Cartwright, a sophomore guard, averaged 14 points and 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game for Flintridge Prep.
Fontanilla, a senior guard, was named to the second team after averaging 6.8 points, 7.4 assists and 3.9 steals per contest for the Wildcats.
Other in the area receiving All-CIF recognition were Pasadena's Brandon Jolley being named Division III-AAA co-Player of the Year and Blake Hamilton (first team); La Cañada's Darrell Dansby (first team, Division III-A); Jeremy Major of Maranatha (first team, Division IV-AA); Marcus LoVett Jr. of Providence as Division V-A co-Player of the Year and Providence's Patrick Gonzalez (first team). Tim Tucker of Pasadena and Ernest Baskerville of Providence were name co-coaches of the year for their respective divisions.