BURBANK — On an afternoon in which Renaissance Academy basketball Coach Sid Cooke spent a fair amount of time correcting his players and displaying more emotion than usual, it would have been easy to surmised his Wildcats did not play well.
While Cooke suggested some frustration afterward, the good news for both coach and team is that Renaissance held strong in the second half and defeated Diamond Ranch, 59-47, in Saturday afternoon’s second annual Pioneers Hoops Showdown at Bellarmine-Jefferson High.
The Wildcats (12-6) took their largest advantage of the game at 49-38 with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter after a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Marquise Mosley, who had missed a month this season with groin and ankle issues.
The double-digit advantage was short-lived, however, as the Panthers (9-9) responded downcourt with an offensive rebound and put back from senior Nnadi Udengwu, who led all players with 16 points.
Diamond Ranch eventually sliced the deficit down to seven points at 51-44 with 3:08 remaining after two more free throws from Olubukola Ayetiwa, which preceded a Wildcats turnover on their next possession.
Just as Diamond Ranch was poised to cut its margin to two possessions, junior forward Wilson Seremes delivered a key block of a two-footer from Udengwu, which led to a Wildcats fastbreak downcourt and eventual foul from Panthers junior Ryan Talmadge of Renaissance guard KJ Okmanas, who finished with a team-high 15 points and was named the tournament player of the game.
Okmanas earned his recognition by hitting his two free throws, which put Renaissance ahead, 53-44, with 2:17 remaining.
While Diamond Ranch countered with a quick bucket from Anthony Macklin Jr. to pull within seven, Diamond Ranch’s plan to foul Renaissance backfired.
The Wildcats’ duo of Mosley (11 points) and Okmanas went six for six from the line in securing the win.
Despite two guards leading his team in scoring, Cooke was not pleased with his squad’s backcourt play.
“They were doing things they shouldn’t have done and running plays, breaking and passing to guys who weren’t in position,” Cooke said. “They’re young and they’re coming around.”
Renaissance never trailed in the game although it had points given and taken away by the official scorer.
The team led, 33-28, at the half, only to come out to find the score had been adjusted to 31-28.
Then with Okmanas at the free-throw line with four minutes in the game and the score at 49-42, the scoreboard shut down.
After a three-minute delay, Okmanas shot the front end of a one-plus-one bonus scenario, but was awarded two points as Renaissance led, 51-42.