Short handed Wildcats beat long odds

WOODLAND HILLS — It's often been said that one of the benefits of participating in summer league basketball for a prospective team is an opportunity to see an array of different squads and coaching styles.

For the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team, though, playing in Saturday's second day of the War on the Floor Showcase at Los Angeles Pierce College presented the chance for a small Wildcats squad to showcase its own talents.

Six-man Renaissance, which was missing three players due to transfer, continued to impress in holding off Los Angeles City Section Dorsey High, 49-41, in Saturday afternoon's pool play finale.

With the victory, the Wildcats advance to today's tournament quarterfinals at 2 p.m. versus Calabasas with an opportunity to continue on to the semifinals at 4 and finals at 7.

"The guys that are here have really been given an opportunity to show what they can do and make an impact," said Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke, who expects three more players to join the team within the next month. "They have taken advantage of this opportunity and playing time to make a case as to why they deserve to be on the court."

The Wildcats weren't just small, but young, as all three of last season's returners — Shane Williams, Marquise Mosley and Nick Aladgin — are all returning sophomores and join newcomers Clark Thomas, Gary Joseph and Matt Der.

Yet, with the odds stacked against them, the Wildcats nearly ran the Dons out of the gym as they scored 18 of the game's first 22 points, highlighted by nine first-half points from Mosley, who scored a game-high 21 points.

"I think because we had no bench, all the guys decided to come out and play harder," Mosley said. "We wanted to get a jump on Dorsey."

Perhaps youth or fatigue got the better of the Wildcats in the second half, as their 14-point advantage at 37-23 with 15:14 left in the second half was eventually sliced to 39-33 on a three-pointer from Semaj Thomas with 10:58 remaining.

The bucket led to a timeout and a chance for another player, Joseph, to come through in the clutch.

Out of the stoppage of time, Mosley sliced through the lane and drew the attention of two defenders before kicking out to Joseph, who drained a three-pointer to put Renaissance ahead, 42-33, with 10:23 left.

It wasn't until seven minutes later that Dorsey made its final push, pulling to within 46-41 on a steal and layup from Trayvon Person with 3:08 left.

The Dons' surge didn't progress any further, though, as Mosley and company held the Dons scoreless the rest of the game.

"I think we got a little tired, a little fatigued at the end," Mosley said. "They started to come back against us and we held on."

Other than Mosley, junior varsity call-up Matt Der turned in a solid effort, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds.

"The situation is actually a good thing. Having a small team lets us work together on chemistry," Der said. "We have to work together as a team. We don't have a choice but to grind out games like this."

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