HomePublicationLa CañadaSpartans’ League Title Hopes Fading After 2 Losses

Spartans’ League Title Hopes Fading After 2 Losses

First published in the Feb. 3 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The La Cañada High School varsity boys’ basketball team had a rare occurrence and lost two consecutive Rio Hondo League games, including a 65-62 setback at South Pasadena on Monday evening.
The Spartans (4-2 league record, 15-7 overall), who hadn’t lost two or more league games since the 2014-15 season and have won eight consecutive league championships, dropped to third in the league standings with the defeat. Meanwhile, the Tigers (7-1 in league, 16-7 overall) claimed possession of first place and are neck-and-neck atop the league standings with San Marino.
“It’s a good rivalry so far. We split this year and hopefully San Marino steps up [and defeats South Pasadena this Friday],” LCHS head coach Tom Hofman said with a chuckle.
The Spartans trailed the entire first half but found new life in the second half after opening the third quarter on an 11-5 scoring run to cut the deficit 42-38. Senior Brandon Chung, who finished with nine points and three rebounds, sparked a rally by scoring the last three baskets behind the arc to claim LC’s first lead of the game, 47-44, to end the quarter.
“Brandon came out there and was a different player for us in the second half — diving for loose balls. We just made too many turnovers at the wrong time, but at least we were playing hard,” Hofman said.
South Pasadena quickly tied and retook the lead permanently to open the fourth quarter despite the Spartans making it interesting in the final minutes of regulation.
Senior Brady Ransom’s sixth and final 3-pointer cut the South Pas lead to 63-60, but LCHS couldn’t regain its lost ground as both teams added one more basket before SPHS ran out the clock. Ransom posted a team-high 22 points, five rebounds and two steals.
“In the first half, Brady was tough. He did a great job keeping us in contact,” Hofman said. “First half, I wasn’t happy at all. I didn’t think we had any energy and we weren’t fighting. But in the second half, I’m very proud of these kids; they did a nice job. Just two good teams coming down to the wire.”
Senior David Garland registered a double-double with 17 points, 12 boards and a game-high five blocks while senior teammate Jacob Lee scored six points.
“Defensively, Jacob Lee did a very good job on [South Pasadena’s Dillon] Akers,” Hofman said. “He’s got the hardest job because he always guards their best player. He gets very little credit for it but he’s a great defender and I think he kept Akers in good control.”
Senior Jack Stoben finished with six points and seven rebounds, sophomore Jack Reynolds scored two points and senior Ty Reynolds had two boards and one steal.
La Cañada is scheduled to visit Monrovia on Thursday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. The Spartans will then have a critical game when they host San Marino in a rematch this Saturday evening.

SAN MARINO 48, SPARTANS 37

La Cañada lost at San Marino for the first time in 38 years in a league matchup last Friday, Jan. 28. It was a tough loss that briefly created a moment where three teams — South Pasadena, San Marino and La Cañada — were tied atop the Rio Hondo League standings, each with one loss.
Hofman, the Spartans’ legendary coach, entered the contest with a 35-0 career varsity record in games at San Marino High’s Dingus Gymnasium. The host Titans had not beaten a visiting La Canada High squad at SMHS since a 67-53 encounter on Feb. 7, 1984, which was nearly three full years before Hofman took over as the Spartans’ varsity coach.
In the defeat, Ty Reynolds and Lee led the Spartans with 11 and nine points, respectively, while Garland and Jack Reynolds scored five points each. Ransom had one field goal behind the arc while Jack Stroben and Chung finished with two points each.
With league action ending two days from now, the Spartans will have to win their final two league games this weekend and also hope that San Marino can defeat South Pasadena this Friday. That combination would likely result in a three-way tie for the league championship — where the Spartans, San Marino and South Pasadena would finish with identical 8-2 records — and yield a ninth consecutive league title for LCHS.

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