LA CAÑADA — Nothing but respect between two seasoned coaches after a CIF Southern Section Division II-A first-round boys’ basketball playoff game Friday.
In a game that started off with shooting woes, La Cañada High found its groove against Burbank midway into the first quarter and did not relent.
Though Burbank chipped away at the La Cañada lead the rest of the game, the Spartans managed to fend off the Bulldogs to advance to the second round with a 57-43 victory at home.
The Spartans will host Suburban League runner-up La Mirada (20-9) in the second round game at La Cañada at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I thought they’ve been under-ranked all year,” La Cañada coach Tom Hofman said. “It’s a tough first round. I’m glad to get to another game. For them, I don’t think it was too fair. If you have two byes, that means we’re No. 1 today, they’re not the worst team in our division, that’s for sure.”
Third-seeded La Cañada (23-5; Rio Hondo League champions) finished with three players scoring in double-figures, led by senior Ryan Graves and junior Kyle Brown, who had 18 points each.
Forward Zack Feehan posted 10 points and 13 rebounds with two blocks, while Brown added eight rebounds and senior Jake George contributed eight assists.
“I thought Ryan Graves did a great job on [Burbank guard] Miles D’Agostin,” Hofman said. “He’s a really good player and he made him work for everything. That was one of the big keys for us and we got into foul trouble that put us back.
“But [Burbank coach] Ernest [Baskerville] has done a nice job with that team. They run good stuff and it’s hard to defend.”
The Bulldogs (17-12; fourth place in the Pacific League) posted two players with double-figure in scoring behind 17 points from senior Miles D’Agostin and 10 from senior Erik Harutyunyan, who added seven rebounds.
“I have so much respect for Tom,” Baskerville said. “He’s been here since I was in high school, and every place that I’ve been at — LACES, Providence, La Salle — he’s always supported things I do. He wrote a letter of recommendation for me to get a job at Burbank. He’s just a great person.
“Ball went in [for them] and it didn’t for us. We shot 14 for 57. You’ve seen us all year. When have we been 14 for 57? It just wouldn’t go in the basket. It wasn’t like we had difficult shots.”
Both teams misfired shots early in the first quarter, though the Bulldogs had an advantage on the offensive glass.
Feehan went on his own 6-0 scoring run to pull the hosts ahead, 8-2, before La Cañada finished the quarter with a 10-4 lead.
The Bulldogs drew first blood at 6:42, but didn’t score another field goal until 56 seconds left in the frame from a D’Agostin jumper.
Burbank’s scoring struggles continued as the Bulldogs tallied their first second-quarter points from the line, all the while La Cañada made most of its moves in the paint.
A 7-1 run made it a La Cañada 20-6 lead before Isaac Anglade hit a basket to get Burbank in a scoring groove.
Graves, who finished the second quarter with 11 points, hit his first three-pointer in response to Anglade’s layup, but the Burbank senior and D’Agostin traded scoring to keep up with the Spartans.
Graves had an answer for each of the senior’s three-pointers late in the first half, which ended in a single-digit La Cañada lead, 28-21.
Burbank closed in, 37-30, midway into the third quarter, but La Cañada restored its double-digit lead with 2:28 left in the frame.
The two teams were scoreless in the final two minutes of the quarter before Graves drove into the lane and picked up a foul for a three-point play with nine-tenths of a second left in the quarter and a 44-30 lead.
Though the Spartans knocked down a three-pointer courtesy of sophomore Ryan Grande for a 47-30 lead at the start of the final quarter, the hosts would not score again until 4:10.
The Bulldogs capitalized on the Spartans’ slump and went on a 7-0 run to cut it to a 47-37 lead with 4:30 left.