Cards-Falcons tilt kicks off SCCAL play

Was there a better way to kick off the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League season than Tuesday’s Santa Cruz-Scotts Valley tilt?

For the unaware, the defending regular-season champion Falcons opened up a 19-9 lead after one quarter and made it appear as if the game might get out of hand. But the Cardinals noticeably raised their intensity in the second half and slowly chipped away at the 13-point halftime deficit.

They cut it to five at one point in the third quarter, only to see Scotts Valley pull away at the tail end of the period to take an 11-point lead into the fourth. But Santa Cruz’s defense again picked up early in the fourth, creating fairly easy baskets in transition before it completely erased the deficit en route to the win.

This game meant much more to Santa Cruz, though. They’re very young — just two seniors on the team — and they needed to prove to the SCCAL that their 11-1 nonconference record was no fluke. Furthermore, the win should also instill plenty of confidence into the slew of underclassmen on the team.

“We had to come out so strong and we knew it,” said senior forward Pauli Pappas.

The SCCAL should be rather interesting this season. Soquel, I believe, is the favorite. But who is to say either Santa Cruz or Scotts Valley won’t be making a run as well. St. Francis and Harbor should also be making some noise.

“It’s gonna be a tough league,” Scotts Valley head coach Jim Hart said afterward. “I don’t think anyone is going to go through this unscathed.”

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