First published in the Nov. 17 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The La Cañada High School varsity boys’ basketball team is gearing up for the 2022-23 campaign with legendary head coach Tom Hofman returning for his 37th season. Hofman has accumulated more than 700 wins since taking over the role in 1986 while leading the team to five CIF Southern Section championship games — two of which produced titles (1992 and 2011).
The Spartans have their eyes set on a 10th consecutive Rio Hondo League title but this time in outright fashion after finishing last season in a three-way tie with South Pasadena and San Marino.
“It’s going to be a tough league. South Pas has a couple new players coming in and San Marino has a lot of good kids back. We lost five senior starters from last year but I think we are going to be pretty solid,” Hofman said. “The first goal is to win a league championship. After that, you want to play your best basketball going into the playoffs and then it’s just the luck of the draw.”
La Cañada is returning several upperclassmen from last year’s team, including seniors Corey Cheung, Finn Cook, Evan Mulcahey, Jason Brown and Sam Guerrero, and juniors Anders Petersen, Jack Reynolds and Macky Plocher. Sophomore Jacob Pastor, who suffered an ACL injury last season that kept him off the court, is also returning. Hofman said he recovered well from the injury and is looking great in preseason games.
The veteran coach has high expectations for his group of returners on and off the court, especially when it comes to guiding their first-year varsity teammates.
“We have some really solid seniors but we also have some solid juniors,” Hofman said. “Petersen, Plocher and Reynolds, they are on their third varsity season. They didn’t play a lot but they have a lot of varsity experience.”
Reynolds averaged 4.7 points and 1.8 rebounds per game, Petersen averaged 2.7 points and one rebound per game, and Plocher averaged 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds last season.
Meanwhile, Mulcahey produced 4.6 points and 3.3 boards per game, Guerrero posted 2.3 points, Cheung and Cook each averaged 0.6 boards per game, and Brown had 0.4 rebounds per game.
Hofman projects the starting lineup to include Pastor, Guerrero, Petersen, Reynolds and Mulcahey but noted that it may change as the season progresses. Hofman also likes that he is coaching a well-balanced team with several players owning the ability to come off the bench and rack up double-digit points.
“If somebody’s having a bad night, we have other guys that we can go to,” Hofman said. “We’re kind of an open book; we don’t change much. I think this is going to be a fun team to watch. They are very, very nice kids. There isn’t one kid on this team that isn’t a great teammate.”
The Spartans will open the regular season by competing in the West Valley Tip-Off tournament at Calabasas High School against Knight High of Palmdale on Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. La Cañada will compete in tournaments until its home opener against intracity rival St. Francis on Dec. 15.