LA CA¿ADA —The La Cañada High boys’ basketball team left no doubt Tuesday as to which team is the best in the Rio Hondo League.
With an outright claim to the league title at stake, the Spartans thrashed Temple City at home, 63-48.
“It's good to win the league title,” said La Cañada sophomore Ko Ko Kurdoghlian, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. “It shows that we're the best in the league and it's just a good accomplishment.”
The win improved the Spartans to 19-6 overall and 9-0 in Rio Hondo play. Temple City fell to 14-9 and 6-3. Each has one game remaining before the postseason begins.
The Rio Hondo League title is La Cañada's fourth in the last five years and the 22nd in the last 28 seasons for head coach Tom Hofman.
The Rams boasted a 30-29 lead at halftime and La Cañada responded by putting on a clinic in the third period. The Spartans outscored their opponents, 14-3, in the frame for a 43-33 advantage. Kurdoghlian had seven points and seven rebounds in the third.
“We were stepping up,” Kurdoghlian. “We just did everything we could to stop them from tying to score.”
The fourth period was more of the same. Behind three three-pointers off the bench from senior Kevin Depriest, who finished with 10 points, the Spartans went up by as much as 18 before cruising to the 63-48 victory.
Hofman credited his team's defense and shot selection as keys to victory.
“I think we wore them out a little bit,” Hofman said. “They exerted a lot of energy. I think they came out a little tired in the second half.”
Kyle Thomas added 10 rebounds and seven points for La Cañada.
Andrew Pau led Temple City with 11 points.
Midway through the second period, La Cañada held a 27-19 lead, but the Rams went on an 11-2 run to close out the half and make it a game. Hofman said that while he wished his squad wouldn't give up such leads, he wasn't surprised they were able to bounce back in the second half.
“They've been pretty resilient this year,” Hofman said.
The Spartans, who are ranked fifth in Division III-A, close out the regular season at San Marino on Thursday.
“We wanted the league title, but we're just ready for the playoffs essentially,” Kurdoghlian said. “We're trying to get ready for the playoffs. We can make a good run.”