St. Francis High basketball tops Gladstone, advances to semifinals

LA CAÑADA — Kyle Leufroy wasn’t aware that he made only five shots from the floor Tuesday night.

It didn’t seem to matter much to Leufroy, a junior guard on the St. Francis High basketball team. Leufroy got the job done in the fourth quarter and celebrated with his teammates after passing another postseason test.

Leufroy scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to propel second-seeded St. Francis to a 55-43 home victory against 10th-seeded Gladstone in a CIF Southern Section Division 3-A quarterfinal contest on Tuesday night.

St. Francis, which received an at-large berth, improved to 18-11 and will play host to neighbor and third-seeded La Cañada (23-6) in a semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday after the Spartans rallied for a 57-53 road win against sixth-seeded Pioneer. Gladstone finished the season at 24-4.

“I didn’t know I made only five shots,” said Leufroy, a reigning All-Area honoree. “My teammates just encouraged me to keep shooting.

“I also tried to help out in other ways with rebounding and passing. It’s great to be moving on.”

Leufroy took 20 shots from the floor. However, he converted on a key three-point play to give the Golden Knights a 47-41 advantage with 2:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Leufroy said the play turned the tide in favor of St. Francis, which began the postseason with road victories against Yucca Valley and San Dimas after going 1-5 in its last six games in the Mission League.

“It was a momentum grabber,” said Leufroy, who contributed five assists and a pair of steals. “We still had to keep playing and we got some defensive stops and a big three-pointer by Evan [Crawford].”

Crawford made a three-pointer to extend the lead to 50-41 with 1:05 left.

St. Francis, which never trailed, got 13 points from Noah Willerford and nine from Markar Agakanian. Crawford contributed seven points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Willerford said the Golden Knights were energized by partisan support inside the near sold-out venue.

“It’s a big deal from a school standpoint,” said Willerford, who contributed seven first-half points to give the Golden Knights a 27-24 halftime lead. “It’s big to get the program out there and keep getting a lot of support.”

Gladstone got 14 points from Manny Chavira and 10 from Ben Reaves. St. Francis held Reaves scoreless in the second half.

“We tried to take [Reaves] out of play,” said Ray O’Brien, who shares the coaching responsibilities with Jeff Stephens. “I just like the way we played defense and rebounded.

“We out rebounded them, 34-19, and got 15 offensive rebounds to get us some scores. The pace of the game was slow, so we thought that would help us out physically. We are excited to be moving on and playing La Cañada.”

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