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Wildcats make history

E.V. Cain wins finale to finish season 12-0, claim school’s first hoops championship
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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As “We Are the Champions” blared over the speakers, E.V. Cain players were hoisted up to cut down the net at Stacy Dragila Gym Tuesday night. The joyous celebration capped a remarkable season for the middle school’s seventh grade boys basketball team. The Wildcats defeated Olympus 38-29 to finish the season undefeated and capture the first league championship in boys basketball in school history. E.V. Cain won the FISAL (Foothill Intermediate Schools Athletic League) title with one last impressive performance. The Wildcats trailed Olympus until midway through the second quarter, when their signature defense led to fast-break points and put the home team in front for good. “Our defense has been dominant all year,” first-year coach Lars Harelson said. “This group really bonded together. On defense, when one gets beat, the next one just slides over. They’re there for each other.” By halftime, E.V. Cain had turned an 8-6 deficit into a 17-12 halftime lead. By the end of the third quarter, it was 30-14. Olympus fought back, but the Wildcats’ depth and balance was too much to overcome. Speedy guard Blake Stelzer scored 10 points and backcourt mate Brenden Ikeda scored nine to pace E.V. Cain. Kazik Lewandowski chipped in with six points, Jeremy Lillis finished with five, Kuba Bardecki scored four while Taylor Ittner and Logan Cole added two apiece. Kabongo Scott was tremendous on defense and in the rebounding department. Olympus came closest to knocking E.V. Cain off this season. During the regular season the Wildcats rallied from a five-point deficit with under two minutes left to win by three points. Harelson guided the inaugural Placer Jr. Hillmen basketball team last summer. That team included nearly all of E.V. Cain’s seventh grade squad. “Over the summer we were able to build chemistry and build some momentum,” said Harelson, who teaches special education at E. V. Cain. “We drilled the fundamentals into them. We pushed them really hard and they learned how to work hard.”