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Castaic High School Varsity Basketball

Castaic+head+coach+Dominique+Butler%2C+center%2C+holds+up+the+plaque+with+the+team+as+they+celebrate+winning+the+CIF+Southern+Section+Championship+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+23.+at+Azusa+Pacific+University.+Habdeba+Mostafa%2F+The+Signal
Courtesy of SignalSCV
Castaic head coach Dominique Butler, center, holds up the plaque with the team as they celebrate winning the CIF Southern Section Championship on Friday, Feb. 23. at Azusa Pacific University. Habdeba Mostafa/ The Signal

In just their third year of varsity play, Castaic Boys basketball went from 0-12  in their league, to being the champions of their division. Castaic Boys basketball, better known as the Lakeboys or Coyotes, have been taking over CIF basketball this winter. Their previous five game win streak, led them to go the furthest in the division playoffs out of any SCV highschool basketball team. Castiac was undeniably the worst team in the Foothill league, but they turned that around these playoffs.

The Lakeboys struggled immensely in the league going 0-12, but went 14-2 against non-league teams which can’t be ignored. In early December they went on a streak, winning eight consecutive games in a row against non league competition. However, they struggled greatly towards the end of December, going 3-10. The Lakeboys especially struggled heading into the playoffs, losing 5 games in a row. Despite their struggles, their playoffs looked much different.

Following the win,  Castaic defeated the California Lutheran C-Hawks 56-48 in the program’s first ever playoff game.  The C-Hawks were the first seed in their league and seventh in their division. Despite that, the Coyotes did a great job slowing down the C-Hawks star player, Ethan Ash, forcing him to have seven out of Cal Lutheran’s twenty three turnovers. However, he still dropped twenty three points, fifteen rebounds, and two steals. The Lakeboys were able to keep a lead for most of the game. They shot down any chance of the C-Hawks making a comeback when Senior, Christian Clark, hit a three pointer late in the final minutes of play.  

A couple days later, the Coyotes faced off against the Montclair Cavaliers, and beat them 55-41. The Coyotes displayed their dominance doing the dirty work. They played tight defense, grabbed every rebound, and attacked the rim. Players Giovanni Valentin and Tashaun Barron led the way on the defensive end, especially Barron. He clocked in twelve rebounds and four blocked shots which helped the team greatly. Due to this, The Lakeboys were able to outscore the Cavaliers 36-17 between the second and third quarters. They kept this play up by only allowing Montclair to score eight points in the final quarter. 

The following week, the Lakeboys defeated The Godinez Grizzlies 93-63, which broke their fifteen game win streak. Barron again led the team on the defensive end, which allowed the Coyotes to go on a pair of 12-0 scoring runs in the first half. He also punched in an impressive thirteen points, twelve rebounds, five assists, and four blocks . Senior Christian Clark posted a program high of thirty six points. He was lights out from the three point mark making eight of them. However, in the third quarter, Godinez scored eighteen points, and was able to force turnovers for Castiac. Lucas Andaluz led them with twenty one points and five steals. Furthermore, Barron’s defensive effort was able to keep the Coyotes in the lead. The crowd for that game was electric, nothing like the Lakeboys have seen all season. Luckily for everyone there, they came out with the win.

  In the semi-finals, Castaic defeated Dunn 78-68. Castaic was killing it in the first half and had all of the momentum going into the second. Miraculously, Dunn was able to climb back from a thirteen point deficit. Six foot seven inch junior, Seal Diouf (Dunn), had an impressive thirty two points, fifteen rebounds, and two blocks. The whole Dunn rotation started the fourth quarter red hot, getting buckets from everyone. However, Valentin was able to keep Castaic in the game. It seemed that with every Dunn bucket, Valentin was able to score too. He had thirty five points, four assists, and four steals leading Castaic to the win. 

In the championship game, Castaic beat the El Segundo Eagles 63-52. El Segundo were the heavy favorites, that season they went 23-10 and were also first in their league. The game was played at Azusa Pacific University, a neutral location. The Lakeboys were undersized compared to the Eagles but still gave it 150% effort. They were playing scrappy defense, crashing for every rebound, and attacked the paint relentlessly, much like they did against Montclair. Senior Valentin had another impressive performance for the Coyotes putting up eighteen points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The Coyotes struggled on the offensive end up until the third quarter. Castaics seniors took over the game in the third and scored twenty four points to El Segundo’s eighteen. Senior Thristian Lewis had a major impact in the fourth quarter making his presence known with his impeccable defense and rebounding. Unfortunately, the Eagles were able to bring the game within three points towards the end of the fourth quarter. From there on, El Segundo layed off the gas and Castaic was getting easy baskets in transition. Which led to them getting an eleven point lead to end the game and winning the programs first ever championship game. 

To everyone’s surprise, a little over a week after the Coyotes deep playoff run they fired their head coach for “inappropriate communications online between players and coaches,” (Zuniga). Basically, inappropriate screenshots from a group chat that included both players and coaches got leaked to the district. Coach Dominique Butler explained to the press that the images happened before they went on the playoff run, and that he did in fact try to nip it in the bud before anything else happened, (Zuniga). Although, the district still fired him for his lack of leadership stating that this is still not acceptable and not up to the standard of behavior that a division champion team should have (Zuniga). 

Overall, it was a wild season for the Coyotes, with so much adversity throughout the whole season they were able to overcome it and be successful. They were heavy underdogs in almost every matchup but displayed so much heart. For a program that has only had a few years of varsity play, it’s safe to say that they are going to be really good for years to come. 

 

From the Signal

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