Scoreless drought leads to loss for Wildcats

WOODLAND HILLS — There's help coming for the Renaissance Academy basketball team. In all likelihood, the Wildcats are not going to have to play a regular season game with just six players when competition begins in the winter.

But that's what Renaissance Academy was burdened with in Sunday's quarterfinal game of the 17th annual War on the Floor Tournament at Los Angeles Pierce College.

Four of its players had never played on the varsity level during the 2011-12 campaign, and of the two who had, one was at Temple City before transferring to Renaissance Academy.

The Wildcats' youth and inexperience caught up to them, as a 10-minute scoreless drought led to a 40-31 loss to Calabasas in the quarterfinals.

"This is a totally new team," said Renaissance Academy's Matthew Der, who transferred from Temple City. "The summer is going to be huge. We just have to play games. We want to win, but we are just trying to get used to each other.

"We are short on players, but that's good for us. We can get in shape."

Even with a depleted squad, Renaissance seemed to have the makings of an upset 13 minutes into the 20-minute first half.

It had the lead and had the best player on Calabasas, highly touted junior Jeremy Lieberman, flustered. Lieberman was just one of seven from the floor and had two turnovers, as Renaissance built a 15-10 lead.

"Then we got a little tired and we got mentally fatigued," Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke said.

Calabasas scored 16 unanswered points in the next 10 minutes, allowing it to take a 26-15 advantage that the Wildcats never threatened. Lieberman hit his first three shots of the second half and finished with a game-high 14 points on a five-for-14 shooting performance.

"They're all JV kids, when we get our guys, it will be different," said Cooke, who was missing players due to injury and vacations. "The guys are new, they don't know the offense. We got really stagnant."

Calabasas increased its lead to 17 before inserting most of its bench, as the Wildcats scored just four points in a 19-minute stretch.

Der led Renaissance with 10 points and Marquise Mosley, the only other Wildcat with varsity experience, had nine points. Clark Thomas added six points and four rebounds for the Wildcats.

"We lost focus," Der said. "We didn't run our plays. We were running into each other.

"We will get used to each other during the summer."

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