HomeBlocksFront-GridSpartans Focus on 11th Consecutive League Title

Spartans Focus on 11th Consecutive League Title

La Cañada High School, St. Francis and Flintridge Prep varsity boys’ basketball teams are gearing up for the 2023-24 campaign, aiming to contend for league titles and make their mark in the postseason. Here’s an in-depth look at each team as they embark on a new season.

The Spartans, guided by legendary head coach Tom Hofman, who reached the 800 career wins milestone last season, opened the 2023-24 campaign this week with goals of securing an 11th consecutive Rio Hondo League title and returning to the postseason.
“Every year the expectations and the goals are the same for La Cañada,” Hofman said. “Work hard, get better, win a Rio Hondo League championship and go deep into the playoffs. Almost every team is strong and has a chance to win games in the league this year. To prepare for this, we practice hard six days a week and make sure our kids are prepared mentally and physically before each game.”
Among the 16 varsity members, nine are returning players, including reigning league MVP Jack Reynolds. The skilled point guard, who averaged 11.4 points per game last season, is expected to play a pivotal role for the Spartans.
“Rarely does the Rio Hondo League MVP return to his team, but Jack is back and ready to add to his outstanding junior season,” Hofman said. “Jack will have the ball in his hands much of the season orchestrating the offense.”
Hofman and his coaching staff anticipate essential contributions from returners Anders Petersen, Macky Plocher, Josh Pastor and Josh Proctor, along with newcomer Maddox Freeman.
Petersen, a four-year varsity player and second-team all-league selection last season, excels as a defensive specialist who can also pose a scoring threat near the basket due to his height and agility. Plocher, a versatile scorer and the football team’s quarterback, brings competitiveness along with both scoring and defending.
Hofman highlighted Pastor’s improved defensive skills during the offseason, complementing his already dynamic scoring capabilities. Proctor, who committed to play baseball at UCLA, was last season’s third-leading scorer coming off the bench, with an average of eight points per game and a team-high 234 rebounds (7.4 per game). Additionally, Freeman, a transfer from St. Francis High, is set to contribute as La Cañada’s sixth man due to his offensive and defensive capabilities.
The Spartans opened the regular season by hosting San Dimas for a nonleague matchup on Nov. 14; the game ended after the Outlook Valley Sun’s press deadline and will be included in next week’s issue. The Spartans will host Pilibos High of Los Angeles on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. before hosting Marina High of Huntington Beach on Nov. 18.


St Francis High School senior Greg Gazarian No 1 and the Golden Knights opened the 2023 24 regular season by competing in the Montebello Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary Tournament this week

The Golden Knights prepare for another exciting campaign in the competitive Mission League, having finished fourth last season with a 4-3 record (19-10 overall). Veteran head coach Todd Wolfson, just 13 wins shy of 300 for his career, aims to guide St. Francis back into the playoffs after an early elimination in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs last season.
“We have incredibly high expectations and an unwavering sense of excitement for the upcoming basketball season,” Wolfson said. “Our goal is not just to compete, but to excel and leave our mark on the court. Our overarching goal is to make this season memorable, not just for us as a coaching staff, but for our fans and supporters. We believe in the potential of our players, and we can’t wait to see them rise to the occasion, overcome challenges and achieve greatness on the court.”
The Golden Knights’ roster has five seniors, including Kennedy Mitchell-Egbo, Chris Kalachian, Alessio Calderon, Ethan Childs and Greg Gazarian. Additionally, St. Francis will rely on production from a trio of key players such as junior Joe Hickey, junior Mazi Mosley and sophomore DeLan Grant.
“We like to have fun and play defense,” Wolfson said. “When you see us play, you will see some defense and excitement.”
While every league contest will be crucial, Wolfson expressed excitement for senior night against Alemany High of Mission Hills on Jan. 19. Additionally, the Golden Knights will host a pair of nonleague games against Maranatha High of Pasadena on Dec. 7 and La Cañada on Dec. 20.
St. Francis opened the regular season this week by competing in the Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary Tournament. Following the conclusion of tournament play on Nov. 18, St. Francis will visit Arcadia for a nonleague game on Nov. 22.


Flintridge Prep senior captain Will Bigby No 11 and the Wolves varsity squad will host Carson California Academy of Math Science in their season opener on Nov 17

The Wolves are coming off a terrific campaign, securing their first co-Prep League title since the 2017-18 season by tying with Providence High of Burbank with a 7-1 record (19-8 overall). Flintridge Prep also secured a CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA quarterfinals appearance where its playoff bid was cut short by St. Bonaventure High of Ventura last year.
“Our expectations for the season are high,” second-year head coach Robert Cartwright said. “We have a veteran-led group who have developed extremely well over the last couple of years. Moving up to II-A is uncharted territory for our program, but we are excited to compete with whomever we get matched up.”
Senior captains for the team include center Henry Morrison, point guard Will Bigby and shooting guard Steven Ng. Also on the roster is senior power forward Noah Willingham, who was a standout running back on the football team.
“Having a strong veteran presence, I believe, is essential at the high school level,” Cartwright said. “We are fortunate to have a group of four seniors who are battle-tested and ready to lead this team. They are motivated to have a strong season and that sense of urgency has manifested in practices and preseason games.”
The varsity squad also welcomes several newcomers without any varsity experience, including junior Lawson Holland, junior Malcolm Cook, junior Josh Roberts, sophomore Matteo Baker, sophomore Barrett Jackson and freshman Miles Adashek.
“Their ability to acclimate to the speed and physicality of the game will be vital to providing needed depth to this team,” Cartwright said.
The Wolves have marked two crucial games against rival Pasadena Poly on their calendar. Flintridge Prep swept the league series against the Panthers last season for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign. Another formidable league competitor will be co-champion Providence, as its two games against Flintridge Prep last season were decided by a combined four points.
“Poly is always our biggest rival. The atmosphere of those games is always excellent and makes for a high-quality basketball game,” Cartwright said. “Beyond that, we know what a challenge Providence is year in and year out.”
The Wolves will open the regular season by hosting Carson California Academy of Math & Science for a non-league game on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. before competing in the San Gabriel Tournament, which starts on Nov. 20.

First published in the November 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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