Spartans advance to semifinals in win

The bus drive to Morro Bay is certainly scenic, yet a second-round playoff victory will definitely elevate the level of appreciation of the California coast.

Thanks to Will Baldwin and Clarke Anderson, La Cañada definitely loves the drive back home after earning an easy second-round playoff victory at Morro Bay, 68-48.

With Tuesday night's victory, the Spartans advance to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA Boys' basketball playoffs. They will face Oxnard Santa Clara at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

“We showed a lot of character. We gave up the lead, but we regrouped,” said La Cañada coach Tom Hofman.

“Defensively, that (second half) might have been our best half of the year.”

Baldwin had a monster game with 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Anderson had a tidy 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The Spartans (22-7) jumped out to their usual first half lead, at one point leading by 14.

However, Morro Bay rallied in the second quarter to tie the game at 33.

Yet with Anderson scoring seven points in the third quarter, La Cañada started the second half with a 10-0 run to take a 43-33 lead, and ended up leading 52-38 at the end of three quarters.

The victory came on the heels of a 62-45 home victory in the playoff opener on Feb. 15, when Anderson led the Spartans with 17 points and Baldwin had 14.

Also scoring in double figures that game were Will Omokawa (11) and Steven Johnson (10).

La Cañada jumped out to an early 15-8 lead in the second quarter before Brentwood (12-15) went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to one.

However, the pressure man-to-man defense was too much for the Eagles, and an Anderson three-pointer with 2:51 to play in the half sparked a 9-2 run to finish the half and give the Spartans a 24-16 edge at halftime.

The Eagles tried to make a comeback effort early in the third, when Peter McMillan wowed the crowed with a thunderous breakaway dunk to cut the Spartans' lead to 29-25 with 4:25 remaining in the third.

Yet Anderson scored eight of the final nine points for La Cañada to give them a 38-30 lead through three quarters.

Brentwood never got much closer, as the Spartans started to pull away down the stretch and held on for the victory.

“Defensively, it was one of our worst efforts of the year,” Hofman said. “I was pleased with our composure, but they're a good team. For us to be a three seed, they were a lot better than that.”

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