boys' basketball team.
Overshadowed by larger schools with more storied histories and
larger student bodies like St. Francis, Flintridge Prep and La
Canada, Renaissance Academy is barely a blip on the area's radar
Two Wildcats -- one a senior, the other a freshman -- are doing
all they can to change that.
Thus far, Leif Williams and Justin Cook have succeeded mightily
during their quest for recognition and solidified their places as the
past, present and future of Renaissance Academy basketball.
Sid Cooke has been the only coach the Wildcats' program has ever
For the five years that the program has existed at the school,
which has been in existence just 10 years, Cooke has been its leader.
Perhaps the biggest change he's noticed in the progression of the
program hasn't come in anybody's play, but in the respect given to
In the burgeoning years of the program, Cooke admits it was
difficult to schedule games, as nobody wanted to play a new school
with a tiny student body.
"I didn't get calls back," Cooke recalls.
That's all changed, however.
"When we come in [to a gym] with our team now, we get more
respect," Cooke says.
It's respect earned by a 2005 team that's posted a 13-4 record,
has won seven straight games by an average of 44 points a contest and
is ranked second in CIF Southern Section Division VA.
A major part of that success has been Williams and Cook.
Williams leads the team with 21 points a game, as the senior
forward has dominated the paint and boards with his 6-foot-6,
Last season, he led the Wildcats to the CIF quarterfinals in his
first season at the school. With his family moving to La Canada,
Williams transferred from Riverside Notre Dame to Renaissance
He says he was looking to better his game and his studies -- both
have happened under Cooke's coaching and the school's ability to
devote more one-on-one time to its students.
The transfer was a coup for Cooke, as he had an inside presence
for the first time.
"I was happy to have him because he was a big strong kid," Cooke
remembers. "I was kind of surprised that we got a big kid."