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Prep basketball: The two tip-offs

SCCS wins its tourney opener in Einstein’s debut

Posted: November 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian's Phillip Webb (23) goes up for a shot as Albert Einstein Academy's Sahil Rai defends on Thursday at Santa Clarita Christian School on Thursday.

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It’s not a rivalry yet, but Santa Clarita Christian and Albert Einstein Academy set the tone for some exciting matchups down the road.

SCCS had to hang on at the end to win 60-55 over AEA, a school located in the Santa Clarita Valley that was playing its first varsity basketball game in school history on Thursday in the opening round of the SCCS Tip-Off Tournament at SCCS.

“I will say that they were a lot better,” said SCCS head coach James Mosley, who had seen the same team play last year as a JV squad. “They shot well.”

With a significant height advantage over the Rockets (0-1), the Cardinals rebounded well and played pressure defense most of the game, which allowed them to open up a lead as big as 16 points at 51-35 early in the fourth quarter.

AEA brought some pressure of its own though, and that helped pave the way to an 13-1 scoring run which cut SCCS’s lead to 58-55 with less than a minute to play.

Both teams got to the foul line after that, but both missed the front end of their respective 1-and-1 opportunities.

With 8 seconds left, Cardinals senior Larue Nixon knocked down a pair of free throws to seal it.

That gave Nixon a game-high 21 points, 17 of which were scored in the second half.

“I’m really proud of those kids,” said AEA head coach Greg Patterson of his team. “We got into a fall camp and got some experience. We really battled hard.”

The Rockets were made up of just eight players, mostly sophomores and juniors because the school doesn’t yet have a senior class.

Sahil Rai led AEA with 19 points and Jackie Saucer followed with 11 points.

AEA struggled to find room in the paint against the Carindals’ pack-it-in zone defense, but the Rockets were able to mount a late comeback once they started knocking down shots.

“Their team has a lot of shooters, so we came out with the zone and I didn’t really know (AEA) to be honest,” said sophomore center Chris Collins, who finished with nine points.

Early on, it was Collins and fellow sophomore newcomer Maynor Brooks who helped build a 34-28 halftime lead with some baskets inside.

The Cardinals appeared to be pulling away when they scored nine straight points in the third quarter to make it a 46-32 score.

SCCS’s lead didn’t start to dwindle until around the 5 minute mark of the fourth quarter.

Mosley said that type of game is a good lesson for this young team to learn in a season opener.

“We have a lot of potential,” Mosley said. “We’re just grateful to have this group together and we’re able to compete.”

SCCS faced the winners of the Concordia-Delphi game today at 8 p.m.


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