BOYS BASKETBALL: Spartans not half bad

La Caada squanders 20-point halftime lead before pulling out overtime victory.

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La Caada’s Will Baldwin, left, drives to the basket in the first half of Thursday s La Caada Classic game against Los Angeles King-Drew Medical. La Caada won in overtime, 67-64. (Keith Birmingham/Staff Photographer)

By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer

LA CANADA – When La Caada boys basketball coach Tom Hofman scheduled Thursday night’s game against Los Angeles King-Drew Medical in pool play of the La Canada Holiday Classic, he felt it would help him gauge where his team is a couple of weeks into the season.
It all depended on which half you went by to see where the Spartans are.
La Caada built a 20-point halftime lead, but needed to force overtime before pulling out a 67-64 victory.
Will Baldwin hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 to play in overtime to snap a 60-60 tie.
“I had a wide-open shot and took it,” Baldwin said. “I kind of regretted it when I released it, but it ended up rolling in.
“I’m just glad it worked out the way it did.”
Baldwin added a layup off a back-door pass from Riley Heaton to give La Caada a 5-point lead.
Brandon Walton had a chance to extend the game to a second overtime, but his shot from the corner bounced off the rim into the waiting arms of Heaton.
Baldwin and Steven Johnson both led La Caada (7-3) with 22 points while Clark Anderson had 17.
“This is a good win for us,” Hofman said.
The Spartans swept their three games in the pool to advance to tonight’s championship game against Riverside J.W. North at 7:30.
“I love the way we got to overtime and handled the overtime,” Hofman said. “I think we’ve shown a lot of growth since our first game two weeks (ago) when we lost to Hart.”
La Caada came out by hitting six 3-pointers in the first half to build a big lead.
“We had a great first half, but our inexperience showed,” Hofman said.
It was a combination of La Caada’s inexperience and the Eagles’ refusal to quit that pushed the Spartans to the limit.
“King-Drew pressured us a lot and that will benefit us if we go up against another pressing team,” Baldwin said. “We knew the second half would be a lot tougher.”
King Drew also owned the glass by out-rebounding the Spartans 36-29, including 17-8 on the offensive end.
“I’m glad we got a tough team to play because we want to get better for league,” said Baldwin, who led the Spartans with 16 rebounds.
King-Drew (5-6), trailing 50-40 entering the final quarter, outscored La Caada 14-3 to take a 54-53 lead on a pair of free throws by Jordan Varnado.
Baldwin’s jumper gave the Spartans a 56-54 advantage with 51 seconds to play.
Kenny Robinson’s running jumper tied things up with 3.3 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Walton and Robinson each scored 20 points, while Timothy Thompson had 16.
Next up for the Spartans is a talented Riverside North team that is led by point guard Malcolm Lee, who is rated as one of the top point guards in the country and is headed to UCLA.
“It’s a game we were hoping to get to,” Hofman said.
North defeated Phoenix High of Oregon, 78-47, to cap a perfect 3-0 record in pool play.

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