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Too much, too soon

The 13th-ranked Cardinals must regroup after a league-opening loss

Posted: January 15, 2009 10:43 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2009 4:57 a.m.

Milken player Daniel Matian, left, blocks the shot of Santa Clarita Christian's Luke Asher Thursday night at Santa Clarita Christian. The Cardinals lost the game 55-48.

Santa Clarita Christian came out pumped for its Heritage League opener.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Milken Community was sharper than the energized Cardinals from the opening tip, and built a 16-point lead after three quarters before staving off a Cardinal rally and earning a 55-48 victory Thursday evening.

Santa Clarita Christian (10-4, 0-1) came into the game ranked 13th in the CIF-Southern Section Division VI-AA, but routinely missed easy shots and outside jumpers in the first half, which prevented the Cardinals from setting up their press defense.

“Guys were just trying to get it too fast,” said Santa Clarita Christian head coach James Mosley. “We missed shots, and the missed layups hurt us real bad because it keys our defense.”

But the Cardinals never went away.

Davi Cotterell scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and hit a jumper to cut the lead to 11 with 3:30 to play.

Cotterell then drove for a pair of layups that sandwiched a free throw by Milken Community, and the Cardinals’ David Perrault hit a 3-pointer with a minute left to bring Santa Clarita Christian within five at 50-45.

Milken Community’s John Russ, however, drained 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute to offset another 3-pointer by Perrault, who felt the game was really lost early on.

“I think we had a bad night,” Perrault said. “We missed too many layups and free throws.”

Perrault also scored the first points for Santa Clarita Christian on a fast break almost four minutes into the game.

Despite the early misses, Cardinals guard Luke Asher kept his team afloat by scoring 15 of his game-high 17 points in the first three quarters.

Milken Community’s collapsing zone did a good job of limiting Santa Clarita Christian’s open shots.

Still, head coach Mike Whiting gave all the credit to the Cardinals for the comeback.

“I think they had to do with it more than the way we played,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the lead is. James does a great job with those kids. It’s never safe when we play them.”

The Wildcats (9-7) also answered an early Santa Clarita Christian run in the second quarter. The Cardinals began to force turnovers with their defense and took a 14-13 lead before Milken Community responded and reeled off 10 unanswered points.

It took that effort and more to stave off both Santa Clarita Christian and its boisterous home crowd.

“This is a really tough place to play,” Whiting said. “The kids play with intensity and they respect each other, but they play hard.”

Santa Clarita Christian will try to rebound today against Thacher.

“Hopefully it’s a learning process,” Mosley said. “It’s a mental thing. We have to come out better.”


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