Oaks Christian basketball routs Canyon for first CIF-SS playoff win since 2018

THOUSAND OAKS – The Oaks Christian boys basketball team used an impressive team effort as it defeated visiting Canyon 72-47 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs on Wednesday night.

It is the first playoff victory for Oaks Christian since the 2017-2018 season.

The Lions (19-10) were led by different scorers all four quarters.

Oaks Christian had 11 players score in total, with six of them connecting for 3-pointers. Bench players accounted for 33 points, including all 17 in the fourth.

“Sometimes it’s a blessing and a curse to have depth, right?” said Lions coach Mark Amaral. “Everybody wants to play, and everybody’s kind of capable of helping a little bit. But that’s been really good for us. It’s been a different guy each night.”

Wednesday night it was sophomore Isayah Garcia’s turn. Playing in only his third game after missing nearly a month due to injury, the guard looked like he hadn’t missed a beat as poured in a team-high 18 points off the bench.

Oaks Christian got 16 points from Nick Giarusso, who added eight rebounds and four assists, and 10 points from Stevie Prudholme, who knocked down a trio of third quarter 3-pointers that helped the Lions open up a big lead.

As well as they played offensively, Oaks Christian may have been better on the other side of the ball. Stevie Amar (eight points, three steals, three blocks) caused multiple turnovers that led to points in the game’s opening minutes.

“Any team loves it when your defense can create offense,” said Amaral. “And we talk about starting games, starting halves, the right way. And we’ve been doing that lately, and it starts with our defense, for sure.”

The defense made sure that was true against the Cowboys (17-11). In both the first and third quarters, the Lions allowed just two field goals.

Canyon’s Eric Kubel scored 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Amar and senior Lukas Lechau (two steals, two blocks) shared duties trying to guard Kubel.

“That’s kind of been a little bit of a luxury we’ve had,” said Amaral. “We’ve kind of kept fresh guys on better players. (Kubel) is a good player. It worked out for us tonight.”

Oaks Christian will play at Sage Hill in the second round Friday night.

This is the first playoff appearance for the Lions since 2018-19. They aren’t taking it for granted.

“It’s super important,” said Garcia. “I came here my freshman year, we’re 4-24. And it was to the point where you didn’t even wanna play basketball anymore. But then the next year we completely turn around. We were 20-4. Unfortunately we missed the playoffs but that kind of set us up for this year. It changed our minds into a winning culture.”

Added Amaral: “We talked today about controlling the controllable. Things you can control and things you can’t. You can control your effort, right? Now, fouls and other such things, you can’t, but your effort is one thing I never want to have to coach. These guys buy into it, and you know how it is – when you see some results of that, then it makes selling a little bit easier. So I’m just proud for these guys. I’m proud for the whole Oaks community.”

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