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CIF basketball: Cards lose last battle

SCCS falls in OT after fighting to make playoffs

Posted: February 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.

SCCS teammates Sean Eberlein, left, and Tikko Moore (23) guard Valley Torrah’s Eytan Darrison on Wednesday at SCCS. The Cardinals fell 35-33 in overtime.

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No matter how bad things looked, Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball kept fighting right down to the last game.

The team even fought to the very last possession.

But one too many shots rimmed out for SCCS, which lost 35-33 in overtime to Valley Torah of Valley Village in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division VA playoffs on Wednesday at SCCS.

“We were there, we had the shot,” said SCCS senior Tikko Moore. “The ball just wouldn’t go down for us.”

After a rough start to the season for an injury-riddled Cardinals team with just eight players on the roster, SCCS (7-16) won four of its last six regular-season games to rally for a playoff spot.

The run ended quickly, though, as the Cardinals shot an ice-cold 16 percent and couldn’t knock off scrappy Valley Torah (14-12).

Dovid Stock knocked down a pair of free throws to give Valley Torah a two-point lead with 47 seconds left in overtime.

The teams then traded empty possessions and SCCS was left with one last chance with seven seconds to play.

Moore’s layup went in and out, and although he scored a team-high 13 points, it marked a tough ending for he and the other three seniors.

That was the story of the game for the Cardinals.

The shots didn’t fall from anywhere. Not even the free throw line, where SCCS finished 9-for-25.

“I’m pulling my hair out,” said Santa Clarita Christian head coach James Mosley. “I’m thinking, if we made half of our free throws, we win this game.”

Both teams struggled to make buckets throughout the game, but the Wolfpack locked SCCS down defensively for much of the night.

In the second quarter, Valley Torah opened up a 15-6 lead on a 10-1 scoring run.

That translated into a 17-11 halftime lead for the Wolfpack, who were led by Nathaniel Liberman’s 13 points.

He scored eight of them in the fourth quarter.

SCCS used pressure defense to stymie the Wolfpack and force 27 turnovers.

Moore started getting to the basket and his layup gave SCCS a 22-21 lead heading into the fourth.

The teams continued to battle, and the Cardinals had a shot to win it with 18 seconds left in a 31-31 tie.

Valley Torah’s defense held again.

“It was like a heavyweight fight, 12th round, beat-each-other-up, bloody,” said Wolfpack head coach Robert Icart.

“You’ve got to find a way to come out ahead.”

It wasn’t an ideal finish to the season for the Cardinals, but it could have been worse.

“It was a miracle we even made the playoffs,” Moore said. “We started out (2-9) and no one thought we’d make the playoffs, but we did. We had a shot at the end, and we just didn’t make it.”

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