LA CAÑADA - There was a point in the first half of her team's game against El Monte High on Saturday night when La Cañada Coach Tamar Hill told her squad that relying on foul shots was not going to get it done.
Hill was right. A barrage of three-pointers and stifling defense was a much better course of action.
Behind impressive defense and 11 three-pointers, third-seeded La Cañada defeated El Monte, 60-29, at home in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs’ second round, moving on to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.
“We were pretty hot tonight,” Hill said. “What better time? Without those kids hitting threes, it becomes a much more difficult game.”
Oddly enough, the Spartans didn't hit their first two-point field goal until less than two minutes remained in the first half. The team's second two-point bucket came with a little more than three minutes remaining in the third.
Five players connected from beyond the arc, led by Alyssa Miller with four. Miller finished with 14 points.
“We don't usually rely on the three,” Hill said. “It went right for us.”
La Cañada brought more than enough defense to the floor considering the team's hot streak. The only blemish was the Lions scoring 13 points in the third quarter. The Spartans held their opponent to 10 points in the first half and six in the fourth period.
The Spartans held an 11-6 lead after the first quarter, but heated up in the second. Sarah Borland got things going with three three-pointers in the second period and Miller knocked down one as well. The rout was on as La Cañada took a 29-10 advantage into the break
“We were just really amped up,” said La Cañada guard Courtney Chen, who had 20 points and six assists. “We were feeling threes. When they're hot, we've got to find them.”
La Canada (19-8) also defeated El Monte (16-12) on Dec. 10.
The Spartans hadn't played a game in nine days since wrapping up the Rio Hondo League title and receiving a first-round bye.
“We sat out for a while,” Chen said. “We just had to get back into it. You can never get a game atmosphere when you're practicing.”
The Spartans finished 13 for 19 from the foul line, including nine for 14 in the first half
“I like to see us shoot a little better from the line, especially in closer games, but we got what we needed to get out of that,” Hill said.