Cook’s synopsis neatly sums up the Wildcats’ strategy, which proved to be highly effective.
Turnovers on the Bulldogs’ first two possessions put them in a 4-0 hole with less than one minute elapsed.
Denied open looks on the perimeter, Burbank was forced to attack the teeth of the Wildcat’s defense.
Anthony Stover anchored that unit Saturday with 10 blocks, including one which sparked a fast break, finished by Yader Combs (six points, three assists) for an 8-2 lead at the 5:00 mark.
“We wanted to make them put it on the floor, and then we can cover and help out,” Wildcats Coach Sid Cooke said. “We’re trying to do a better job of that.”
Four and a half minutes into the game, Renaissance (4-0) had already built a commanding 14-2 lead and taken much of the composure out of the Bulldogs (3-1).
“Renaissance is a great team and you’ve almost gotta play flawless against them,” said Burbank Coach Jose Hernandez, whose team lost, 51-44, to the Wildcats in the final of last year’s Classic. “Our guys got a little excited early on and we weren’t as patient as we had planned to be.
“We wanted to make sure that we got the best possible shots, but I thought we came out and panicked a little bit.”
Renaissance led 19-8 after the first quarter, and 41-23 at halftime on a putback by Tremaine Tatum (11 points, five rebounds) at the buzzer.
The lead remained at 18 going into the final period coutesy of another buzzer-beater, this one by Deandre Daniels on a second attempt.
Josh Thomas scored 13 points and added six rebounds for the Wildcats. Daniels scored four points, had four rebounds and had two blocks to form a towering defensive tandem with Stover in the middle.
“Defense is really all that me and Deandre like to do,” said Stover, who also pulled down seven boards. “You can expect to see those amounts of blocks every game.”