LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The drama was palpable when the La Cañada and Blair high boys' basketball teams squared off for the second time this season.
It only lasted for eight minutes, though.
The Vikings traded blows with the Spartans in the first quarter, which featured three lead changes and three ties, and came out ahead by one point.
The lead didn't last long as La Cañada locked down defensively and kicked its offense into another gear in the second on route to winning big, 61-37, at home Friday.
"They were enthusiastic and were going to come get us," La Cañada Coach Tom Hofman said. "We've been vulnerable in our past few [Rio Hondo] League games and they were pumped up, but we did a nice job of matching their intensity. They came out quick, but we didn't get rattled."
Blair (9-10, 3-3 in league) jumped out to a 7-2 lead as Joshua Brown scored the Vikings' first five points. The Spartans (13-7, 5-1) tied the game at 7 on a layup from Tim Kim (12 points).
Both teams battled to another tie at 12 in the first quarter, but Demetrius Mavi (seven points) sent Blair into the second with a 15-14 lead after stepping back and nailing a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
The Spartans went on 13-6 run in the second to go into halftime up, 30-18. La Cañada's offense got rolling after Jay Srinivasan, who finished with a game-high 15 points, nailed back-to-back threes in the second.
"We kept our heads in the game," said La Cañada's Darrell Dansby, who flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks. "It started out back and forth but we never panicked. We just kept our heads and clicked."
Dansby made his biggest contribution on defense by guarding Brown, Blair's most dangerous scorer, for the majority of the game and racking up four blocks in the second quarter.
"The key to the game was when we switched Darrell to [Brown]," Hofman said. "He shut him down. It was over — no more offense — he absolutely shut him down."
La Cañada had 11 blocks in the game, but Blair Coach Eric Kinley didn't think all the blocks were clean.
"They played good defense, but had a lot of calls go their way," Kinley said. "We attacked the basket and they had hands on the body. You can't beat the refs, too. Once you start missing a few shots and don't get the calls, you get discouraged and start forcing some things."
The Spartans came out firing in the second half as Srinivasan hit another three right out of the gate to push the lead to 33-18.
La Cañada used a 19-4 run to take a 27-point advantage — the highest of the game — on a Dansby layup that pushed the score to 49-22 with 1:35 left in the third.
Brown finished with a team-high 10 points and Sherman Simpson had a team-high nine boards for the Vikings.
"We're going for league champs still," Kinley said. "Hopefully they'll get another loss and we'll just win the rest of our games. We have a good, strong team. We'll take this loss and take our pride and ego, dust it off and get back to work."