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Renaissance ready for rematch with Crusaders

Basketball: Wildcats' road to state goes through Village Christian.

March 16, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Members and coaches of the Renaissance Academy boys' basketball team frequently point to their challenging regular season schedule as a reason for their ongoing postseason success.

Now that experience is proving to be quite relevant to the Wildcats' quest for a state title in a more direct way, as they will have a rematch with a regular season foe for the second state tournament contest in a row.

It worked out pretty well for Renaissance in the CIF State Boys' Division V Championships Southern California Bracket semifinal on Tuesday, when the Wildcats avenged an earlier loss to Ribet by beating the Fighting Frogs, 75-59, to advance to the Southern California finals, where they will meet Village Christian at 3 p.m. Saturday at Colony High in Ontario.

Third-seeded Renaissance (26-7) has some recent history with the fifth-seeded Crusaders (30-3), as well, having pulled off a 60-44 win over Village Christian in the 43rd annual Bulldog Tournament at Burbank High in the second game of the season on Nov. 30.

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"Village is a very tough team [with] a lot of height," Wildcats senior guard Vince De Guzman said. "We're in for another dogfight. We beat Village earlier in the year and we know they're going to come out for us. We know we have the target on our backs and we're ready for them."

Since being handed their first loss of the season by the Wildcats, the Crusaders went on to win 16 in a row and 21 of their final 22 regular season games to make a perfect run through the Olympic League and advance to the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 5-AA playoffs, where they lost to Ribet, 64-52, on Feb. 24.

"I think our guys are real excited to get an opportunity to play on this stage," Crusaders Coach Jon Shaw said. "Last time we did a poor job of guarding their two best players [De Guzman and senior center Jessy Cantinol]. We gave them too many second-chance points and lost them in transition too much."

Village Christian (30-3) has advanced through the state tournament with wins over San Diego Jewish Academy, Mission Prep and Division 5-AA champion St. Bernard, which defeated Ribet for the sectional title. The Wildcats' state path, which began on the heels of the program's first-ever CIF sectional title in Division 6, has taken them through Vincent Memorial and Rock Academy before besting Ribet.

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