Question: Are the Wildcats championship-bound?
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
RIVERSIDE – The most critical time for the Renaissance Academy boys basketball team is halftime.
The Wildcats, no matter the score, seem to come out in the third quarter and take over. They did it again Tuesday night in the CIF-Southern Section Division III-A quarterfinals.
Renaissance scored the first 21 points of the quarter and pulled away for a 70-48 victory over host Notre Dame.
Top-ranked Renaissance will play West Valley, a 55-50 winner over Corona del Mar, in Friday’s semifinals at a site to be determined.
“We made our adjustments,” Renaissance coach Sid Cooke said of the third quarter. “We let them off the hook in the second quarter and we came back and made our points.”
Josh Thomas, an All-CIF selection last season who has missed the past six weeks because of an injury, came off the bench in the quarter to ignite the Wildcats, who improved to 24-2 with their 15th consecutive victory.
Renaissance led 35-23 at halftime. Thomas knocked in a 3-pointer from the corner on the first shot of the half and hit two foul shots the next time down the floor.
“Josh came in, and that’s our guy,” Cooke said. “It looks like he’s ready to go,. He’s moving pretty good when he has to. He’s still not 100 percent, but that’s the guy we need. We really got to have him back.”
Center Anthony Stover and guard Justin Cook then took over for Thomas. The pair scored the next 16 points and the Wildcats had breathing room and a spot in the division semifinals for the second consecutive year.
The Titans missed their first 14 shots of the third quarter before Hamilton Chang hit a 21-foot 3-pointer with 1:54 left in the quarter. It was the only points Notre Dame would score in the quarter.
The Titans shot only 5.4 percent (1-of-22) in the quarter and shot 8.3 percent (1-of-12) on 3-point attempts. Overall, the Titans took 34 3-point shots, making only four. Two came in the fourth quarter when the game was long decided. They shot 27.7 percent (18-of-65) for the game.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” Notre Dame coach Robert Robinson said.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats had their best shooting in the quarter, making 60 percent (9-of-15) of their shots. The Wildcats did not shoot a 3-pointer in the quarter. They shot 48.3 percent (29-of-60) for the game.