It looks like the La Cañada High boys' basketball team won't be able to play the underdog role any more.
Entering the CIF State Division III Boys' Basketball Championship tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Southern California bracket, the Spartans must now play as favorites. Just a week ago, many were picking Price to beat La Cañada in the March 3 CIF Southern Section Division III-AA championship, but the Spartans came out on top, 50-47.
La Cañada's Coach, Tom Hofman, has been a fan of the underdog role up to this point. He believes it put his team at ease in tense games.
"You can relax a little bit, the expectations aren't quite there [as underdogs]," Hofman said after La Cañada's win against Price.
Mike McGlashan, the Spartans' senior shooting guard, said his team has no problem playing any role.
"Truthfully, it doesn't matter if we're the underdogs or favorites, we just have to play our game," McGlashan said. "Personally, I think being the underdogs helped us a little, because everyone looked at us and didn't expect us to win, and we came out with nothing to lose."
As the top seed, La Cañada receives a first-round bye and will host Crespi tonight at 7 p.m.
La Cañada has already gone on an incredible run this season, boasting a 28-3 record and winning the program's first CIF Southern Section championship since 1992. A season like this seemed impossible to Hofman a few years ago.
"Looking at the CIF and the way championships are won, we thought before 2007 that we were never going to get back here again," said Hofman, referring to the Spartans' 2007 postseason, when it lost to Campbell Hall in the Division III championship game. "You've seen the teams that get to [CIF]; they aren't small, little public schools like La Cañada. That '07 team really sparked something in us that we can do it."
But even after bringing home La Cañada's first CIF Southern Section boys' basketball championship in 19 years, the season's mission is not yet complete, McGlashan said.
"We hit the first mark and won the first thing everyone was dreaming about, but now we really feel like we can make a run in state," McGlashan said. "No one expected us to win, but we got to the [CIF Southern Section Division III-AA] championship game and won. No matter who we play in state, we feel like we have a good shot—we just have to keep playing this way."