MONTEBELLO — Not only has Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division IAA playoffs, the Cardinals have done it while enjoying sweet revenge.
Cantwell avenged another earlier season loss, defeating Santa Monica, 62-57 in a quarterfinal Feb. 21 at home. The Cardinals (15-14) travel to Pasadena Feb. 24 to play Maranatha (17-9) at 7 p.m.
The Cardinals finished third in the Del Rey League, overcame an eight-game losing streak and entered the playoffs with a losing record. But they are clearly a team on the rise, beating three teams with 20-plus win records in the playoffs.
Cantwell went on the road to defeat La Mirada, 64-56, in the first round to avenge a loss a month earlier. In the second round, the Cardinals returned from Temecula Valley with an 85-66 victory.
“The true test of character is how you handle adversity,” Cantwell coach George Zedan said. “And nobody quit during that eight-game losing streak. All our players came out to practice and practiced hard.”
The roles will be reversed against Maranatha, which lost to Cantwell, 56-47, in Maranatha’s own tournament early in the season.
The Cardinals are in semifinals for the first since the 2013 season. They played in the Open Division the past three seasons.
Cantwell, which lost to Santa Monica, 46-40 Dec. 9 at the Beverly Hills Tournament, came out firing as Dawit Wilson sank three three-pointers to help his team build a 10-point lead early in the second quarter.
The Cardinals continued to control the game with the inside work of Avery Martinez and Andre Fields. But with two forwards in foul trouble, Santa Monica used a 14-0 run in the third quarter to lead 44-43 entering the fourth.
Wilson, who was scoreless in the second and third quarters, got his stroke back in the fourth and scored 13 of his game-high 22 points and the Cardinals used an aggressive defense in finishing the game with a 20-13 run. Santa Monica made only three of 14 shots in the fourth quarter.
“A great win tonight,” Zedan said. “This team is tough and resilient. I’m so happy for the kids and our community.”
Martinez added 21 points and Fields had 13 points. Santa Monica, the Ocean League champions who won the Division IA title in 2016, was led by De’Shean Allen-Eikens with 16 points. Payton Moore scored 12 and Daniel Schreier put in 11.
Other teams advancing Feb. 21 were Loyola, which faces Harvard-Westlake in the Southern Section 1A Division; and St. Paul, which hosts San Bernardino in Division 3A. Both games are Feb. 24.
In The L.A. City Section, Crenshaw will face Palisades Feb. 24 in Division 1 action, Gardena will face Bernstein at Hollywood High at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 in Division II, followed by Carson versus Kennedy at 8 p.m.
In Division III, Banning will face Sotomayor at North Hollywood High at 6 p.m. Feb. 24.
In Division IV, West Adams faces Cesar Chavez at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 and Hawkins faces Legacy at the same time.