By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
La Canada’s Brandon Hempstead has been playing with a heavy heart, but you’d never know it judging by his recent performances.
Hempstead’s father Todd passed away last Friday after losing his battle with cancer. That night, Hempstead, a sophomore sharpshooter, led the Spartans to a win in the semifinals of the Arroyo Tournament.
The next night, the Spartans lost in the finals, but Hempstead was named to the all-tournament team. On Monday, Hempstead and his teammates buried his father, then went out that night and beat Besant Hill in the La Canada Tournament with Hempstead leading the way with 29 points.
“It was totally up to him,” La Canada coach Tom Hofman said about Hempstead’s desire to play. “I think for him, it was a good release to distract him from everything that’s going on. And his dad was a huge basketball fan and loved watching him play.
“So I think he was pretty much playing in his dad’s honor and wanted to make his dad proud. We told him he could do what he needed to do and that the decision to play was totally up to him, but I think being around his teammates was good therapy for him.”
Wednesday’s loss by the Spartans to Hart has La Canada likely playing in Saturday’s third-place game at 6 p.m. against the loser of Friday’s game between St. Francis and Bonita. There is a small chance the Spartans could be in the championship game, but that would require an Arcadia upset of Hart on Friday night.