After dominating and going undefeated in the Rio Hondo League this season, the La Cañada boys’ basketball team vaulted into the playoffs.
Garnering the No. 3 seed in CIF Southern Section Division II-A, the Spartans surged through the first two rounds of the tournament.
However, La Cañada looked to face its biggest test of the postseason Thursday, when it took to the road for a quarterfinal contest against Walnut.
It’s safe to say the Spartans passed the test with flying colors, jumping out to an early lead and rolling to another fine performance in a 50-37 victory.
It was the fourth quarterfinal appearance in the last five seasons for La Cañada under longtime coach Tom Hofman.
The win also puts the Spartans (26-5) into the semifinals for the first time since 2014 when it fell to neighbor St. Francis, 56-53, in Division III-A competition.
In Saturday’s semifinal at 7 p.m., La Cañada will be on the road to take on Crean Lutheran (16-9), which placed second in the Empire League.
The Spartans wasted little time putting the pressure on the host Mustangs. La Cañada used a substantial 15-0 run in the first quarter to close out the frame with an 11-point advantage, 20-9.
It was more of the same in the second quarter for the Spartans and they went into halftime leading, 29-14.
In the third quarter, Walnut was able to whittle the Spartans’ lead to 11 in the opening minutes. But Kyle Brown (12 points) responded with back-to-back three-pointers to expand the lead to 37-20.
La Cañada, which received 13 points from Ryan Graves, went into the fourth quarter with a 39-26 cushion.
The Spartans began the playoffs with a 57-43 first-round victory against Burbank before dispatching La Mirada, 65-36, in the second round.
Walnut (23-8) was runner-up in the Hacienda League behind Los Altos.