By Miguel A. Melendez
LA CAADA FLINTRIDGE — Fans of the visiting Corona del Mar High School girls basketball team held signs with encouraging phrases through the first quarter.
By the time the second quarter came around, the signs were barely useful to fan themselves some air.
What seemingly looked like a competitive first-round game quickly turned into a La Caada clinic, as the Spartans ran past Corona del mar, 57-31, on Thursday night in the CIF-Southern Section Division IV-AA playoffs.
La Caada will play the Whittier Christian-El Monte winner in Saturday’s second-round game.
The Spartans (21-4) did a superb job of suffocating the Sea Kings (18-10) with a swarming defense, and it didn’t help that Corona del Mar went on a woeful 1 for 14 shooting in the second quarter either.
That’s when La Caada blew the lid open and finished the quarter on a 12-1 run.
The back door passes were there all night for the Spartans, and the Sea Kings didn’t seem to want to adjust.
Tia Chen arguably had one of her best performances for the Spartans, nearly recording a quadruple-double. She scored 14 points, had 10 steals, grabbed nine rebounds and dished eight assists.
Teammate Courtney McCutchan was not that far off from a triple-double, scoring seven points, grabbing seven rebounds and five assists.
“Tia did a great job in the first half and distributed the ball well,” La Caada coach Tamar Hill said.
There were, however, some moments when the Spartans didn’t exactly look like a top tier team.
La Caada turned the ball over three consecutive times with under five minutes left in the second quarter.
Fortunately for the Spartans, Corona del Mar did not capitalize.
“At that point it looked like neither team wanted the ball,” Hill said. “Both teams were tired and worn out but we gathered ourselves.”
So what does La Caada take from this blowout?
“We need to make sure that we’re making good decisions especially when we’re getting tired,” Hill said. “Hopefully we can get rid of the sloppiness so we’re prepared against better teams.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORES
J.W. North (Big VIII 4) at Alhambra (Almont 2)
Westlake (Marmonte at-large) at Keppel (Almont 1)
Charter Oak (Miramonte at-large) at Rosemead (Mission Valley 1)
South Pasadena (Rio Hondo 3) at Citrus Hill (Mountain Pass 3)
La Caada 57, Corona del Mar 31
Flintridge Sacred Heart (Mission at-large) at 29 Palms (De Anza 1)
Maranatha (Alpha at large) at Notre Dame Academy (Sunshine 2)
Duarte (Montview 4) at Harvard-Westlake (Mission 2)
San Marino (Rio Hondo at-large) at Rosamond (High Desert 1)
Blair (Rio Hondo at large) at Workman (Montview 2)
Flintridge Prep (Prep 3) at Woodcrest Christian (Big Sky 2)
Westridge (Prep 4) at Fairmont Prep (San Joaquin 2)
Western Christian (Christian 3) at La Salle (Camino Real 1)
Marshall (Delphic 3) at Calvary Murrieta (Big Sky 1)
Animo Leadership (Harbor 3) at Pasadena Poly (Prep 2)
Rio Hondo Prep (Prep at-large) at San Fernando Valley Academy (Omega 1)
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