Renaissance falls, 67-59

first_imgStefan Kaluz, the Sea Kings’ 6-foot-9 junior center, scored a game-high 23 points and 6-foot-5 forward Joe Eberhard scored 18 to pull away down the stretch for a 67-59 victory. Corona del Mar shot 58 percent (22 for 38) and out-rebounded the Wildcats, 34-18, to claim its first championship since 1995. Hector Harold’s free throw with 2:51 left cut the Sea Kings’ lead to 54-51, but the Wildcats couldn’t creep closer and dropped to 27-2 heading into next week’s state playoffs. Cook finished with a team-high 17 points and four rebounds, but he was only 7 of 23 from the field. He also knew the Wildcats let a golden opportunity slip away. “We came in here feeling like we could get it done,” Cook said. “Maybe we were a little over-confident thinking we should win. But give them a lot of credit, they out-played us and we didn’t make enough big shots. The Wildcats made the leap to III-A this season and carried the No. 2 seed into Saturday’s championship against No. 4 Corona del Mar at the Honda Center. But the Sea Kings’ size proved too much for a Renaissance program that is in only its seventh season of existence and without a senior on its roster. “But our season isn’t over. I think we can do better in state, and we’ll take this loss into our heads and perform better next week.” The Sea Kings (21-8) never led by more than eight points but responded every time the Wildcats made a run. “In the second half we did a better job, but they did a great job of executing and you have to give them credit,” Wildcats coach Sid Cooke said. “It still comes down to maturity. We don’t have a senior on this team and we’re still learning how to play in these big games. It hurts right now, but we’ll learn from it.” The Wildcats trailed 17-10 after the opening quarter, but Yader Combs’ floater with 20 seconds left in the half trimmed the Sea Kings’ lead to 28-27. The Wildcats trailed, 29-27, at the break after getting out-rebounded,, 18-6. Kaluz was unstoppable in the first half by connecting on 7 of 10 shots for 14 points, but Josh Thomas and Cook helped keep the Wildcats close by scoring nine and eight points, respectively. The Wildcats shot 50 percent (9 of 18) from the field. “He (Kaluz) did a great job,” Cooke said. “We couldn’t double-team him too much because they had good shooters. We had to pick our poison, but the bottom line is that he had a good game.” Thomas scored 15 points and 6-foot-8 sophomore center Anthony Stover finished with 10 points and five rebounds for Renaissance, but it was obvious nerves still played a role. “I was up every hour and a half last night thinking about this game,” Stover said. “Playing at nine in the morning is tough. I couldn’t sleep.” (626) 962-8811, Ext. 4485 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img ANAHEIM – Renaissance Academy is inching closer to a championship, but it’s not quite there yet. Wildcats guard Justin Cook is only a junior, but it was his third consecutive trip to a CIF-Southern Section division championship game after losing twice previously to eight-time V-A champion Price. last_img

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