The Santa Clarita Christian School Cardinals boy’s basketball team had the Midas touch winning the gold division of The Classic at Damien with a 75-52 victory over George Washington Prep at Damien High School in La Verne Monday night.
“I’m super proud of this group I believe God has blessed our school with,” said SCCS head coach James Mosley. “They really fit our school culture.”
The Cardinals (11-3 overall) played in a packed gym filled with SCCS faithful, who were eager to see their team take home a tournament title.
“I was encouraged by the amount of fans and parents that weren’t affiliated with the team necessarily, that just go to the school,” Mosley said.
It was a slow start for both teams in the first half. The halftime score didn’t reflect how both teams were playing, at least for SCCS. By the time both teams went into the locker room, the Generals (9-9) had managed to slow the pace of the game enough to stay within six points of the Cardinals who led 30-24.
“It was an ugly game early, but we were able to get the ball moving and hit some threes,” Mosley said. “It’s a team effort in terms of ball movement. That makes us a lot better when we have a lot of guys score.”
SCCS took over in the second half. They effectively sped up the pace of the game and pushed George Washington Prep onto their heels. In the third quarter, the Cardinals dropped 20 points to lead 50-41.
Mosley’s squad kicked it into overdrive in the final period of play. The Cardinals left the Generals in the dust and outscored them 25-11 to be crowned the gold division champions with a 23-point victory.
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“We were trying to speed them up because we knew they played a slow methodical pace in the first half,” Mosley said. “Our pressure started to bother them in the second half. The flow was more our pace in the second half.”
Josh O’Garro led the Cardinals in scoring with 23 points. His contributions throughout the tourney earned him All-Tournament honors alongside Valencia’s Jake Hlywiak. He also tallied six rebounds, a block and three steals in the championship game.
“He just keeps getting better,” Mosley said of O’Garro. “[He’s] an incredible athlete. He makes us able to compete with anyone, as well.”
O’Garro wasn’t the only Cardinal who received recognition at the end of the tournament. Ty Harper (19 points and six rebounds) took home some hardware as well. He was named the tournament MVP.
“I’m really happy for him that he would win that award,” Mosley said. “He’s been doing a great job. I really feel like he’s made progress in terms of running our team and being a leader.”
Winning a tournament is always good momentum to have, especially as SCCS approaches league play in January. Every team that has won the gold division since The Classic’s revival in 2016 has gone on to win their league.
However, Mosley isn’t worried about looking too far into the future. He has his eyes focused directly in front of him. To him, The Classic was a good way to gauge how his team will play this year, but he wants to tackle one game at a time, rather than get caught up on the end of the year possibilities.
“We just focus on one game at a time and try to get better,” he said. “For us, it’s just a great barometer of all the work we put in. We just focus on getting better each day.”
SCCS will return to the hardwood Jan. 3 against Eastside, before competing in a rematch with Rancho Christian in the Real Run Winter Classic on Jan. 4.