Girls Basketball: Hold on to your seats folks, the Rio Hondo League takes us all on a fun and very bumpy ride.

Above: Monrovia and Blair battled to the end last year, and this time it’s no different.

I’m telling you. It doesn’t matter what sport we’re talking you fans are always bound for a bumpy ride in the Rio Hondo League. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We had a crazy league race in baseball last year and then there was this past football season when Temple City and La Caada were part of a playoff on a late Friday night. Now, it’s girls basketball taking us for a bumpy but awesome ride.

Here’s what’s going on:

The regular-season finale is Thursday and San Marino, South Pasadena, Monrovia and Blair are battling for the league’s final two playoff spots. La Caada already clinched the league title, and they visit Temple City, who are 0-9 in league and that game’s result will have no ramifications.

San Marino (4-5 in league) visits South Pasadena (5-4) and Monrovia visits Blair (5-4).

If San Marino wins, both the Titans and Tigers are tied at 5-5, and if Monrovia beats Blair, both the Wildcats and Vikings would be 5-5. In that event, there would be a playoff Friday (site and time TBA) to determine the league’s two playoff-bound teams. For the record, all four teams split this season.

If South Pasadena beats San Marino, the Tigers would be 6-4 and the Titans would drop to 4-6, and if Blair beats Monrovia, the Vikings would be 6-4 and the Wildcats would drop to 4-6. In that event, South Pasadena and Blair would flip a coin to determine who goes to the playoffs as the league’s second and third-seeded teams.

If South Pasadena beats San marino and Monrovia beats Blair, then South Pasadena would be 6-4 and Blair and Monrovia would each be at 5-5. In that event, San Marino would drop to 4-6 and would be out of contention for a playoff spot, leaving South Pas as the No. 2 team from the Rio Hondo League while Monrovia and Blair have a playoff Friday to determine the league’s third spot. In this case there would be no coin flip because the league does not flip a coin to determine who goes to the playoffs, only placement of teams guaranteed a playoff berth. We’ll know the exact details tomorrow and keep you posted.

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Boys Basketball: Balance restored in Rio Hondo League

LA CAADA-FLINTRIDGE – Balance was restored Tuesday night.

La Caada High School’s boys basketball team had won five consecutive Rio Hondo League championships prior to last year, when the Spartans were dethroned by Temple City.

There was no denying which team belonged atop the league standings this time as La Caada rolled past Blair, 74-56, on Senior Night to clinch the league title outright.

La Caada (20-5, 8-1) avenged a 44-41 loss earlier in the season and did it with a spectacular third quarter in which the Spartans outscored their counterparts 32-17.

Blair (8-10, 5-4) led 13-12 after the first quarter and 26-25 at the half. The start of the third quarter set the tone for La Canada, which opened on a 9-0 run before Blair coach Shawn Bankhead was forced to call a timeout in an effort to get the Vikings settled.

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Preseason Baseball: Time to unleash the hounds!!!

It’s obvious that football and baseball rule the blog. Winter sports threads have gone up with little action, so at the risk of my bloggers walking into our Pasadena with bats in hand, here’s your second preseason baseball thread. Whatever subjects you guys wanna talk about just post them and I’ll see what I can do about making your threads happen.

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Boys Basketball: It’s CIF-SS finals or bust for Pasadena

Pasadena suffered a rare loss in the Pacific League last week, dropping one to Burbank, 59-56. It was only the Bulldogs’ second loss in 84 Pacific League games. Pasadena beat Crescenta Valley, 57-54, just days before to clinch at least a share of the Pacific League championship. Perhaps wrapping up a share of the crown is why the Bulldogs came out lax. “We never looked like we were ready for the game,” Pasadena coach Tim Tucker said. “We missed 10 free throws, seven layups, and it took its toll. But we lost to a good team that’s in second place. There’s no shame in that. They were posed to try to go undefeated (in league) so they can have some momentum going into the playoffs. It’s hard to stay undefeated year after year. Sometimes a loss is a win, and we didn’t lose bad. We just lost. There’s no panic in this camp. They (Burbank) were a better team and hit a better shot. It was their night to win the game. If losing gets us focused and working hard then it was worth it.” Pasadena (18-6, 11-1) hosts Burroughs (4-21, 3-9) at 5 today and then closes the season at home against Muir (9-14, 4-8). A Pasadena win or a Burbank loss gives the Bulldogs an outright league championship, their sixth in a row. Burbank has a slim chance and would need to win its next two games and hope PHS loses both of theirs. “These games coming up are important not just to win the league outright but because of playoff placement,” said Tucker, who’s Bulldogs are ranked No. 2 in the CIF-SS Division 2A. Pasadena won’t have a walk in the park against Muir on Thursday as the Mustangs try to muscle their way into the playoffs. “They have a lot to gain,” Tucker said. “In the second half of league you’ve seen everybody and teams make adjustments. They’re fighting and we have to come prepared. We have to treat it like a championship game.”

As for the playoffs, the Bulldogs are hoping to break their spell of second-round exits the last two seasons to Arroyo Valley and Long Beach Poly. It should be noted, however, that Pasadena was playing in Division 1-AA. Three years ago, the Bulldogs won the Division 2A championship before getting bumped up. Pasadena had a loaded team last year, but got cold when it mattered most. Despite a young team that features only one true player (George Toyama) who was part of last year’s team, Tucker has high expectations. “We like the position we’re in,” he said. “We don’t want to go out in the second round and we don’t want to be upset. If we don’t get to the finals it just won’t be a successful season.” Tucker is hoping for the perfect storm: luck, talent and hunger. “You have to hope you get a bracket where you get a game that’s not 100 miles away.” You recall when Pasadena drove a long way to lose to Perris, 64-62, the year before winning it all. “We lost that game to the bus ride,” quipped Tucker. “The ride was longer than the game itself.” … Tucker continues: “Then talent kicks in and after that how bad you want it. The teams I’ve taken to the finals have been focused and had the right mentality.” Tucker is hoping the Bulldogs catch fire just in the nick of time to make it five CIF-SS finals.

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Boys Basketball: Pas Poly hoping to even things out

Pasadena Poly (18-4, 4-2) is riding a 5-game winning streak, and in the process handed Flintridge Prep quite a drubbing with a 56-35 last week. The streak started after the Panthers suffered a rare Prep League loss at the hands of Rio Hondo Prep. And who does Pasadena Poly play at 7:30 tonight? You guessed it, Rio Hondo Prep (10-11, 3-3). The host visiting (game was moved to Pasadena Poly because of a leak in Rio Hondo Prep’s gym) Kares have won five of their last seven games which includes a 49-48 win over Poly. In that game, Rio Hondo Prep was led by Ed Drain’s 17 points. Charles Quintero added 14 and T.J. Parker had 10. The Kares outscored Poly 19-9 in the fourth quarter to earn the victory. “They did a very nice job and we didn’t play our game,” Pasadena Poly coach Brad Hall said. “We’re usually a 70 percent-plus free throw team and we didn’t make our free throws in that game.” The Panthers are hoping to get some hot shooting from senior Justin Worlan. “He works to make sure he takes contested hard shots,” Hall said. “(Flintridge Prep’s) Kenyatta (Smith) is a phenomenal player, but in the first half he started 1 for 8.” Juniors Daniel Wohl and Hunter Merryman are the Panthers’ bread and butter, but others can step in, too. “Our two guards, Blake Edwards and Curtis Toyota, don’t tend to score a lot but they’re capable of scoring,” Hall said. “It’s just worked out that Daniel and Hunter score most of the points, but when we see funky defenses those kids step up and do quite well.” Rio Hondo Prep is fighting for the league’s third and final playoff spot with two games remaining.

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Girls Basketball: Alhambra eyeing Almont League crown

Alhambra’s girls basketball team can bring home the school’s first Almont League championship in 17 years with a win over visiting Bell Gardens at 5 today. The Moors (19-4, 8-0) are under first-year coach Therese Berner, and already accomplished quite a feat when Alhambra snapped Keppel’s 87-game league winning streak with a 64-62 win in the first meeting. The Moors, who close out the regular season at Keppel (11-13, 6-2) on Friday, are on a an 8-game winning streak and have won 12 of their last 13 games.

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Girls Basketball: A growing experience for Keppel

Keppel girls basketball coach Ib Belou is not making excuses. But it’s hard not to look past the Aztecs’ lineup, which includes two freshman who have started in the last three games. All together, Keppel has four freshman, a sophomore, four juniors and four seniors. Nine of those players, however, never had played varsity prior to this season. By contrast, Alhambra has eight seniors and Schurr has seven.

“It’s taken them a little longer to get their feet wet and understand this is the main stage,” Belou said. “We stopped using the ‘We’re a young team, still learning’ excuse right before league started. The freshman really had to grow up, and I’m pleased with the maturity of how much our team has grown. Our youngsters have really started to turn the corner, which is nice.”

Alyson Lok is a bright spot for the Aztecs. The freshman guard averages 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.

Keppel’s loss to Alhambra, which snapped an 87-game league winning streak, was followed by another loss to Schurr.

“That was a tough week for us,” Belou said. “Two road games, back-to-back against two of the toughest teams in league. I believe that definitely had something to do with it.”

Keppel still has a shot at clinching a share of the league title, but they’ll need some help. The Aztecs need to beat San Gabriel today and hope Bell Gardens upsets Alhambra. That would setup a showdown on Friday when Keppel hosts rival Alhambra.

“It’s definitely a goal, but it’s out of our hands,” Belou said. “We need a little help, but all we can do is focus on San Gabriel and have two good practices and be ready for them Friday.”

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“In the Huddle” with Aram Tolegian off and running

Aram Tolegian arrived at approximately 10:13 this morning, negotiated the title blog header: “In the Huddle with Aram Tolegian,” and is off and running. He already was working the phones on the vacant Nogales football opening that was supposed to be filled last week, and will be on the phones hammering away soon at other football coaching vacancies at San Gabriel, Los Altos and Bassett soon. BTW, Nogales is not filled yet.

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Boys Basketball: La Salle, St. Monica battle for crown

Not much going on today, but if you’re in the mood for some exciting basketball you should head down to La Salle. The last meeting between the Lancers and St. Monica went into overtime, La Sallec coming out on top, 66-61. St. Monica is 7-1, its lone loss coming to the Lancers, who are 8-0 in Camino Real League action. Today’s tipoff is 7 p.m. and La Salle can clinch the league crown outright with a win tonight. La Salle closes the season Wednesday against St. Paul at home. In the last meeting, St. Monica had four players score in double figures, led by Ryan Capiro who scored 14 points. La Salle is led by Matt Nolan’s 15 points and 10 rebounds average per game. Josh Anderson is the Lancers’ second-leading scorer with 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds average per game.

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