LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The shots didn't seem to fall from behind the arc for the San Marino boys' basketball team, while La Cañada caught fire from deep in the second half of a first-place showdown in the Rio Hondo League Friday night.
The Spartans relied on their defense and three-point shooting in the second half to pick up a 62-45 win at home after San Marino kept the game tight in the first half.
"We didn't particularly shoot the ball like we normally do — we take pride in our ability to score and shoot the basketball — a lot of it has to do with La Cañada, they stepped up and played better 'D,'" San Marino Coach Mihail Papadopulos said.
There were four ties and three lead changes in the first half as La Cañada entered halftime up, 25-20, after seeing San Marino's Jasper Hwang drop 11 points in the first half.
La Cañada Coach Tom Hofman said he believed the key to the game was a defensive switch made at the second half when Darrell Dansby guarded Hwang, who only scored two more points after the switch.
"I thought Darrell was the difference because [Hwang] was killing us," Hofman said. "He had like three blocks and [Hwang's] their best player by far."
The first-place matchup carried some extra weight for Dansby.
"We knew this was coming up," Dansby said. "It was a special game, we were talking about this forever. It was a back-and-forth game early, but I did not want to win the game by two."
La Cañada (11-6, 3-0 in league) came out hot in the second half and hit two straight threes. Ryan Lee nailed one from deep on the Spartans' first possession and Jay Srinivasan hit one of his own on La Cañada's next trip down the floor to push the lead to 31-20 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Srinivasan hit two more three-pointers in the third, widening his team's edge to 36-25 and then 42-25 with 3:07 to go in the quarter. Both those connections were quickly followed with a timeout call from Papadopulos as the home crowd rose to its feet.
"After I hit the first one my confidence usually sky rockets," said Srinivasan, who finished with a game-high 17 points after hitting five threes. "Once it goes in I'm feeling pretty good."
Papadopulos was able to get his team back on track as the Titans (11-7, 2-1) closed out the third quarter on a 6-2 run after the timeout to cut their deficit to 44-31 going into the fourth quarter. San Marino cut the lead back down to 53-42 on a three-pointer from Andrew Martinez with 3:20 left, but another Srinivasan three pushed the lead to 58-42 with 2:25 to go.
"That's Jay's job," Hofman said. "He's not going to guard anybody, he's not going to rebound, he's going to shoot threes — that's his job and he's done a nice job of that the last five games for us."
La Cañada, ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division III-AA, received solid contributions from all five starters. Dansby scored 11 points (seven in the fourth quarter), had nine rebounds and three blocks, Conner Boyd finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, Kim had 11 points and five boards and Lee scored nine points.
San Marino, ranked 12th in Division IV-A, got 11 points from Hwang and Andrew Martinez, who hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Papadopulos knows his team won't have a problem bouncing back.
"We are pretty confident in our guys," he said. "There's things we're going to clear up. It's a long league — long season — it's just about making adjustments."