Pasadena High School completed its ninth consecutive Pacific League title with a 62-53 victory over visiting Muir on Thursday evening.
The Bulldogs started the second half with a 14-0 run. Perris Hicks led Pasadena in scoring.
The CIF-Southern Section playoff pairing will be announced on Sunday.
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
SOUTH PASADENA — It was a good thing the La Canada High School girls basketball team was making its free throws.
The Spartans made only 3 of 17 field-goal attempts in the second half, but converted 8 of 14 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter to hold off South Pasadena, 43-34, and claim the Rio Hondo League title in a first-place showdown Thursday night.
La Canada finishes the regular season 9-1 in league play, winning its first league title since 2010. South Pasadena finishes 8-2. Both teams now eagerly await Sunday’s announcement of the CIF-Southern Section playoff pairings.
“It is so surreal,” Spartans junior Courtney Chen said of her first title. “I can’t believe we won it. We worked so hard this year. I’m so happy.”
The Tigers, trying to win their first league title since 1999, made one field goal in the game’s final 4 1/2 minutes.
“We just couldn’t hit one,” South Pasadena coach Tammy Lai said. “That made it difficult. We tried. It’s just the shots weren’t falling.”
La Canada led by as much as 29-17 in the third quarter, but the Tigers went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 33-30. Sophia Hathaway scored on a putback with 4:32 to play, the last South Pasadena field goal for more than four minutes.
Elise Takahama hit a pair of foul shots with 3:28 to play to make it 33-30 and Spartans coach Tamar Hill called timeout.
Chen, who had a game-high 19 points, drove to the basket, drew out the defense and hit Lauren Barsamian for an uncontested layup with 2:15 to play.
“The key was that Courtney made a great decision,” Hill said. “Earlier she was trying to force it. I told her to calm down, let the play develop and she did. That’s why she is the player she is.”
Chen said it gave the Spartans confidence.
“I knew in that position we had to pull it together and play as a team,” she said. “I need to get my team out of that position. I need to make my team feel confident and as comfortable as possible. They give me confidence to do what I do out there and I feel I have to return that and give them that easy basket and get their confidence up, too.”
La Canada did not have another field goal the remainder of the game. But the Spartans did not need one. The Tigers missed seven consecutive shots, nearly all 3-pointers. They had to foul La Canada. Chen made 6 of 8 foul shots in the quarter.
When Lexie Scholtz finally hit a 3-pointer, the Tigers’ first in the game after missing all 17 previous attempts, La Canada had a 42-34 lead with only seconds left on the clock.
The win avenged a 52-27 South Pasadena victory two weeks ago.
“I told them the pressure is really on them,” Hill said. “They won the last time. We can just waltz into their gym and do what we do. We came out guns blazing in the first half and it was good to see our team respond like that.”
La Canada went on a 10-2 run to start the second quarter to build that lead that South Pasadena tried to chip away at. Aundrea Issakhanian had six points in a row during the run.
Division I and II signees:
Cassidy Rey: University of Denver
Alex Alex Astorga
Track and field
Daniel De La Torre: UCLA
Armand Bagramyan: UC Santa Barbara
Sarah Mendenhall: Princeton
Casey Cousineau: Dartmouth
Kaelin King Lafayette
Whirtney Cohen Santa Clara
Flintridge Sacred Heart
Kayla Mills: USC
Sarah Teegarden: Wakew Forest
Krista Meaglia: Northeastern
Savannah Viola: New Mexico
Kendall Sandoval: UNLV
Hailey James: Cal Poly Pomona
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
PASADENA — A swarming defense and a healthy dose of Andre Spight was just the ticket for Pasadena High School on Tuesday.
The defense created 22 turnovers and Spight scored 29 points as the Bulldogs punched their ticket to their ninth consecutive Pacific League boys basketball title with a 75-68 victory over Crescenta Valley.
“It was won on the defensive side,” Pasadena senior Perris Hicks said. “Pasadena is known for defense. It’s hard to play defense. You have to find it in you. But once you find it in you, everything gets flowing.”
Pasadena (19-5) has a two-game lead on the Falcons with one game to play, Thursday against visiting archrival Muir. The Falcons ( 19-7) need to defeat visiting Arcadia on Thursday to clinch second in league.
Crescenta Valley, which defeated Pasadena, 57-54, in the last meeting, had to win Tuesday to try and earn a share of the league title. A loss to Hoover last week severely hampered their chances of dethroning the Bulldogs without a victory Tuesday.
“Say they score off of five offensive rebounds and five turnovers,” Crescenta Valley coach Shawn Zargarian said. “That’s 20 points right there and I’m being nice. That was difference in the game right there, the turnovers and offensive rebounds.”
A heavy does of Hicks and Spight helped build a lead that reached as many as 16 points.
Hicks, whom Falcons sharpshooter Cole Currie called the toughest defender he’s ever faced earlier this season, kept the guard off-balance and even frustrated Currie, who had only five points after three quarters. He finished with a team-high 20 points on 6 of 19 field-goal attempts.
“We just knew we had to come focused and play defense from the very beginning of the game,” Pasadena coach Tim Tucker said. “I thought we threw the first blow and kind of held on.
“The gameplan was to not let Cole get going toward the basket and pull up for the 3-pointer. We did a great job on him.”
When the Falcons set picks for Currie, Spight picked up the guard seamlessly.
“Our defense was great,” Tucker said. “Raymond (Jackson), Jeffrey (McClendon) and Perris were phenomenal. They can dial it up with anybody. I keep saying I wouldn’t want to play us in the playoffs. You’ve got three defenders like that. We’re a dangerous team.”
And if it wasn’t the defense, it was Pasadena’s rebounding that did the trick. The Bulldogs had 15 offensive rebounds despite the absence of Brandon Jolley.
He had four points and two rebounds in the first half and did not play in the second half because of what Tucker called personal issues.
Perhaps the biggest rebound was not a rebound at all.
The Falcons appeared to have the rebound, but Hurschel Langham punched the ball into the air. Hicks got it and was immediately fouled. The Bulldogs were finally into double bonus foul shots and the point guard hit both to make it 65-57.
“I made some big free throws and stayed confident,” Hicks said.
Springer was called for charging, his fifth foul of the game, and Spight made one of two foul shots to take it back to a nine-point lead.
However, the Bulldogs did not stop playing their aggressive defense, and much to Tucker’s dismay, fouled the Falcons as soon as they got the ball.
It got as close as 71-65 when Currie hit a 20-footer with 20 seconds left, the final field goal of the night. The Bulldogs made four foul shots and the Falcons three the rest of the way.
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
J.D. Thompson, the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Long Beach’s Wilson High School last season, was named the head coach at San Gabriel on Monday.
He replaces Jude Oliva, who resigned in December after leading the program for three years.
It will be Thompson’s first stint as a head coach.
“I’m really excited,” Thompson said. “I’m a pretty enthusiastic guy in general and this has been among the best. But the truth be told, I already feel like I am already behind in timing and everything.
“But we have great kids and there is a great opportunity for us.”
Thompson, who played running back and wide receiver for Corona’s Centennial in 1994, has been a coach for 16 years. He coached in in Centennial’s program for 10 years, starting with his first year out of high school when he was 17.
He has also coached at Norte Vista in Riverside, Bellflower and two years at Sage Hill in Newport Beach. He has coached been both an offensive and defensive coordinator.
“I’m a little more of an offensive guy,” the 36-year-old said. “That’s where my head lies. But defense wins championships and I am very particular about my defenses.”
That means the spread, no-huddle offense of Centennial is coming to San Gabriel.
“(Oliva’s offense) was pretty fast, but we’ll be a little faster,” he said. “I’m a Centennial guy. The kids want to have fun and I’m a firm believer in that (type of game). It makes me a firm believer in (the offense).”
Oliva guided the Matadors to a 17-17 record, including a 2011 CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game berth against Monrovia. San Gabriel went 3-7 last season, 2-3 in the Almont League.
That championship-year run was a big selling point in accepting the position, Thompson said.
“That was a big intriguing factor for me,” he said. “There is talent; I will not be completely rebuilding. I just want to improve on what Jude has done.”
Wilson went 3-7 last season. The Bruins averaged 131.1 yards passing and 180.0 yards rushing in the tough Moore League, which competes in the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division.
South Pasadena held San Marino to just one basket in the third quarter and stretched its lead into double figures, ultimately winning 46-19. Lexie Scholtz had 19 for the Tigers. La Canada, meanwhile, beat Temple City 60-47 to keep the train headed toward a season-ending showdown next Thursday for the RHL title against South Pasadena.
Great games today:
La Canada (6-1, 4-10) at Temple City (7-0, 17-5), 7 p.m.
It’s for first place
Bishop Montgomery (6-0, 24-0) at La Salle (1-3, 12-8), 7 p.m.
Chance to see undefeated team this late in season
Flintridge Prep (5-0, 15-6) at Rio Hondo Prep (4-2, 15-6), 7:30 p.m.
Rebels can wrap up league title
South Pasadena (6-1, 18-4) at San Marino (5-2, 14-9), 5:30 p.m.
Tigers want to stay tied for first; Titans won last time out
Blair (3-3-1, 5-5-4) at Monrovia (2-2-3, 11-5-7), 3:30 p.m.
Battle for third place
Flintridge Prep (3-1-2, 7-8-3) at Pasadena Poly (3-2, 6-7-1), 3:30 p.m.
Second-place at stake
San Marino (5-0-2, 11-3-2) at South Pasadena (3-0-3, 6-7-3), 3:30 p.m.
Both teams undefeated in league
Harvard/Westlake (7-0-1, 12-1-3) vs. Flintridge Sacred Heart (5-1-1, 13-2-2) at St. Francis, 5:15 p.m.
Fireworks and first place
Flintridge Prep (3-1-1, 11-1-3) vs. Pasadena Poly (5-0-1, 12-1-1) at South Pasadena, 7 p.m.