Faced with a double-digit deficit on the road in the second half, the Cantwell-Sacred Heart boys basketball stayed calm and went inside.
When you have two 6-foot-11 post players, you can do those sorts of things to weather any storm. The Cardinals did just that and rallied past host Maranatha for a 56-51 win on Friday night in the semifinals of the Rose City Classic.
“We have the two big kids, who have tons of experience at the varsity level, but everyone is up from junior varsity or new to the program, so this all new for them,” Cantwell head coach George Zedan said. “We’re super excited and happy with the kids’ effort.
“Obviously, Maranatha is a great team and they’re missing their two bigs. It probably would have been a different story had they had them. But we’ll take the win and we’re super thrilled.”
Cantwell improved to 3-0 and will play Price in Saturday’s championship game. Maranatha fell to 2-1 and will play Chino Hills in Saturday’s third-place game.
Despite not having 6-10 forward Trevor Stanback (illness) and 6-9 center Odera Nwobi (CIF sit-out period), the Minutemen had their chances.
Trailing 54-51, Maranatha had the ball back and missed three shots in the closing seconds before winning a loose ball out of bounds for one final shot following one of the misses. With five seconds left, the Minutemen had trouble in-bounding the ball and a desperate pass to center court was intercepted by Cantwell’s Antonio Cortez, who got fouled and iced the win with two free throws.
“It came down to bigs and their bigs showed up when they had to,” Maranatha head coach Tim Tucker said. “I knew we had to have a bigger lead than we had. I’m proud of my guys. We fought. I think we missed a lot of free throws, too. It was just a great game by both teams.”
Maranatha got hot from outside midway through the third quarter and a two-point lead at halftime for the Minutemen swelled to 42-29. Cantwell used an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to get things close again.
Down the stretch, the Cardinals found the much easier offense by using their height advantage while Maranatha often struggled just to get shots off. Oregon St.-bound center Gligorije Rakocevic led the Cantwell with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Maranatha super recruit Tyler Dorsey led all scorers with 21 points.