Mason Holle knows his role on La Cañada High's boys' basketball team. He's a defensive stopper, and as point guard, his job is to pass instead of shoot, letting fellow guard Mike McGlashan take the big shots.
However, there was a role change for Holle in the championship game of the La Cañada Holiday Classic Tournament Saturday night. Holle was the star of the final, catching fire from deep and getting his team out to a hot start against Bonita, hitting four three pointers and scoring 16 of his 18 points in the first half.
"That first three [pointer] went in, then that second one went in, then that lay-up went in and it was over," Holle said of his team's 63-51 win against the Bearcats (8-2).
The win pushed the Spartans' record to 8-0, as the hosts won their own La Cañada Classic Tournament for the third year in a row. It also gave them their second consecutive championship this season, after winning the Arroyo Tournament on Dec. 11.
La Cañada cruised through the middle rounds of the tournament after squeaking out a win in a one-possession game against Arcadia, 55-52, in the first round. The Spartans continued to defend home court, rolling through Muir, 63-40, and Village Christian, 71-38, in the second and third rounds.
"It's not necessarily defending your home court, but challenging yourself against very good opponents," La Cañada Coach Tom Hofman said. "It's good to get to the final because it puts some extra pressure on you, like a big-league or playoff game does."
Holle's effort in the final gave the Spartans a big 24-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"[Holle] had been struggling a little bit, but he hit some huge shots and really started our momentum tonight," Hofman said. "He's been a good defensive player and floor leader for us, but if he can score, that's a big bonus."
The first-quarter cushion ended up being enough. Bonita trimmed the lead to 47-44 late in the third quarter, but La Cañada came back for the win.
"There was a little lull there in the third quarter and we've been doing that a bit," Hofman said. "We kind of fall asleep and let the other team come back on us. We need to work on that."
The Spartans woke up with a minute remaining in the third quarter when Mike McGlashan drove to the basket and picked up a blocking foul as he dropped in the lay-up. This gave him a chance for one more at the free-throw line. However, a few seconds later the call was overturned and McGlashan was whistled for a charge.
McGlashan was visibly upset and used his frustration to get himself going offensively after being held to just eight points up to that point. He came down the floor on the next possession and hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer, giving his team a 50-44 lead to end the third quarter.
Bonita started the fourth quarter sloppy, picking up a technical foul for having six men on the floor. McGlashan made the Bearcats pay, hitting a free throw and another three-point shot on the ensuing play for a four-point possession. The play gave La Cañada a 54-44 lead and the Spartans never looked back.
McGlashan was named the tournament's most valuable player, as he averaged 14.25 points a game in the classic. Dario CiVon and Matt Faber also made the all-tournament team. CiVon averaged 13 points and Faber 7.8 points in the four games. Holle also received an all-tournament nod, mostly in part for his performance Saturday.
"We've won [the Classic] the past two years and we wanted to make it three in a row," Holle said. "We wanted to win the Arroyo, come and win here and at the Temple City Tournament — just sweep them all. It's very important that we came out here in front of everyone and just got it done."
The Spartans will set their sights on the Temple City Holiday Classic Monday in a first-round matchup against Marshall.