Most of La Cañada High's current boys' basketball players were in junior high the last time the Spartans advanced to the Arroyo Tournament championship game.
But on Saturday, La Cañada made the most of its first shot at the title contest in the Arroyo Tournament since 2007, defeating Mark Keppel, 58-48.
The tournament provided the Spartans with their first preseason play of the year, and they rolled through the competition, defeating each opponent by at least 10 points, to begin the season 4-0.
"We wanted to win this; we hadn't even been to the finals in recent history," said La Cañada guard Dario CiVon. "There was a lot of energy in the locker room before the game. We were all like, 'we're already here, we might as well win it.' "
La Puente was a tough first-round matchup for La Cañada. The Spartans still managed to get the best of the Warriors, 61-50.
The following two rounds were a breeze, as La Cañada beat Montclair, 71-47, in the second round and Arcadia, 67-34, in the semifinal game.
Mike McGlashan, La Cañada co-captain and starting guard, said the easy victories came thanks to good team chemistry.
"This summer we were real shaky — still getting used to each other — but we're working well together now," McGlashan said. "Everybody knows what everyone can do. We're hitting each other for open shots, getting loose balls and working together, so it's getting there. It's not perfect, but it's getting close."
The closest call of the tournament came in the championship game against Mark Keppel. It looked as if the Spartans were going to repeat their second- and third-round performances early in the championship game. La Cañada jumped out to a 19-10 lead in the first quarter, shooting almost 75% from the field.
Brothers Jordan and Justin Young kept the Aztecs close, though, while the Spartans cooled off. Justin scored 15 points and Jordan was on fire from behind the arc, hitting five three-pointers and finishing the game with 21 points.
Keppel trimmed the deficit down to 50-46 with 2:45 left in the game. However, the Spartans put the game out of reach, hitting free throws down the stretch and holding the Aztecs to just two more points in the final minutes.
"They had a chance to come back, but I liked the way we fought their rally and came back ourselves," said La Cañada Coach Tom Hofman.
Mike McGlashan was named the most valuable player of the tournament. He averaged a team-high 21.8 points, three steals and 4.8 rebounds a game in the event.
"Mike's a good player. He's the guy we depend on at the end of these games, and he usually makes very good decisions for us," Hofman said.
CiVon and Matt Faber were both named to the all-tournament team. CiVon averaged 16.5 points a game, hitting 11 three-pointers in the tournament. Faber, a forward, was the team's leading rebounder in the tournament, averaging 8.5 rebounds a game.