LA CAÑADA – A streak of four straight seasons with at least one playoff victory was snapped for the La Cañada High boys’ basketball team by visiting Campbell Hall on Wednesday evening in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs.
The Vikings scored the game’s first 12 points and never looked back en route to a 70-57 victory.
The defeat is the first in the first round for the Spartans since the 2012-13 season and ends a campaign in which La Cañada finished 19-10 and won a fifth consecutive Rio Hondo League title.
“Hey, we started the game by giving up a 12-0 run and we missed too many free throws and shots,” La Cañada coach Tom Hofman said. “That’s too good a team with too many good players to get behind the eight ball.
“Maybe if we take a lead and put some pressure on them, I believe we can stay with them, but that’s a different game.”
Senior wing Patric Panoosi led all players with 24 points for La Cañada, while senior guard Brendan Co added 19 points and six assists.
Senior guard Mike Meadows guided the Vikings’ three-headed attack and finished with 22 points, ahead of teammates Charlie Riordan (19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks) and Chris Simmons (14 points). Gold Coast League fifth-place finisher Campbell Hall improved to 19-9.
Hopes of advancement quickly soured for the Spartans, who trailed all night after the Vikings opened the contest with a 12-0 run capped on a three-pointer from Riordan with 4:21 left in the first quarter.
Though the Spartans countered with a runner from Panoosi and a three-pointer from Co, they were outscored, 6-2, the rest of the quarter and were in an 18-7 hole after one.
La Cañada’s deficit remained at 11 after a jumper from Panoosi at 2:21 in the second quarter as Campbell Hall led, 28-17.
From that point, the Vikings outscored the Spartans, 13-2, capped on two free throws from Meadows with .1 second left as Campbell Hall took a 41-19 advantage into the break.
The Spartans won the third quarter, 17-16, and the fourth, 21-13, but never seriously threatened in losing by 13 points.
In terms of shooting, the Spartans had an off-night as they hit only 12 of 22 free throws and struggled from the field, as well.
“We just couldn’t make shots, we just couldn’t make any shots,” Panoosi said. “For me, I didn’t play a good game and it hurts. I wish I did better and I wish I could have won this game for my team.”
There were two big ovations, the first coming when Panoosi fouled out at the one-minute mark in the fourth and the crowd paid the senior tribute.
Then, with 45 seconds left, Hofman called a 30-second timeout so that Co could enjoy the same honor.
“That felt special because this high school means a lot to me,” Co said. “I think everyone knows I played my best and it was special the respect they gave to me.”