Proving last Friday’s win over La Canada was no fluke, the South Pasadena High School boys basketball team set its sights on taking full control of the Rio Hondo League on Wednesday night.
Standing in the way was visiting Temple City, which entered the night tied atop the league with the Tigers, but it didn’t take very long to see who the clear class of the league is for now.
South Pasadena bolted to a early double-figure lead and never looked back in a 77-69 win. The Tigers are now alone in first place and served notice they’ll be a force to reckon with the rest of winter.
“That’s what we’re capable of,” South Pasadena coach David Lutzeier said. “When we play our best game, I really think we’re unstoppable offensively. We consider ourselves the front runner in the league.
“We really think we’re the best team in this league and we don’t feel like we’re upsetting anybody. We know what we’re capable of.”
Lutzeier and the Tigers might know it, but it probably took the past two games for everyone else to believe it. South Pasadena improved to 11-5 overall and 3-0 in league. Temple City fell to 11-8 and 2-1 in league.
The Rams never really had a chance given South Pasadena’s hot start. Joey Toyama hit four 3-pointers in the first half and the Tigers eventually led by over 20 points in the second quarter. Toyama finished with a game-high 25 points.
After falling in such a big first-half hole, Temple City slowly chipped away at the lead and with South Pasadena cooling off just a bit in the third quarter, the Rams were able to twice cut the lead to 10 points.
But South Pasadena found offense each time to repel the threat. Leading 61-51 to start the fourth quarter, Christian Lee hit a 3-pointer for the Tigers on their first possession of the final period. Greg Luck, who had 19 points, later added another 3-pointer and the lead ballooned back out to 15.
“We had a horrible start,” Temple City coach Eric Chin said. “They hit a couple of big shots and it was just a big deficit to come back from. They’re a very good team. Very well-coached. It’s just hard to come back from that.”
Lutzeier emptied out his bench late in the fourth quarter, which allowed the score to get cosmetically more appealing for Rams fans. The two teams meet again at Temple City on Feb. 6.
“I really thought we’d come out a little bit hungover from that (La Canada) win,” Lutzeier said of his team. “I’m proud of the way they stepped up. They surprised me.”