Late start bodes well for Minutemen, bad for Spartans

Something just felt off when the Maranatha and La Cañada high boys' basketball teams squared off in the Azusa Pacific University Shootout Saturday night. It could have been that the game didn't tip off until after 9 p.m. “This is the first time we've ever played this late,” Maranatha's Garren Llorens said. “Our point guard Jeremy [Major] was saying it was weird playing in this atmosphere.” Llorens was able to adjust just fine as he nailed six three-pointers to finish with a game-high 18 points in a 52-33 Minutemen victory. It was not only a late start, but an early one for the Spartans, who also competed against El Camino of Oceanside in the Fairfax State Preview Classic at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, a game they lost in overtime, 56-48. “I think that first game took a lot out of us,” La Cañada Coach Tom Hofman said. “It was an emotional game and a physical tear – the starters played a lot of minutes. I think mentally, as much as physically, we weren't prepared for tonight.” Maranatha (17-5) took a five-point lead into the second quarter behind a big first eight minutes from Llorens. La Cañada's Jay Srinivasan hit a three about 10 seconds into the game, but it was quickly matched and doubled by Llorens, who hit back-to-back threes to give his team an early 6-3 edge. Llorens was on fire Saturday night, as he nailed another three from the corner that just beat the first-quarter buzzer – despite the Spartans' Daniel Jun covering him perfectly – to give Maranatha a 14-9 lead heading into the second. “I don't know what my shooting percentage was – God gave me the abilities to do it and I just proved what I could do through him in everything,” he said. The Minutemen opened the second with a 9-0 run, capped by a three from Brandon Pomroy, forcing a La Cañada (13-9) timeout with 4:14 left in the half. The Spartans' Darrell Dansby stopped the run with a layup out of a timeout, but Maranatha still went into halftime with a comfortable 28-15 lead after Llorens knocked down another three with 3:25 left in the second. “He's really shooting the ball well,” said Maranatha Coach Tim Godley, who got eight points from Major and six points and seven rebounds from Andrew Elffers. “We do a good job of finding him, too. It's great when you get a guy hot and you can keep feeding him so he stays hot.” Maranatha's zone defense shut down La Cañada's offense, which didn't manage to put up more than 10 points in any quarter. “We changed our assignments up to watch the corners where their shooters were and when we did that we shut down their entire offense because we knew most of their offense was run through their shooters,” Llorens said. Both teams played their reserves most of the second half, but the Minutemen didn't cool off, as they pushed their lead to 22 points, 47-25, on another three from Llorens with 1:10 left in the third quarter. La Cañada did win the fourth quarter, 8-5, behind five points from Jun, but still lost by 19. Conner Boyd finished with a team-high nine points for the Spartans. “The double header wasn't a good idea, in hindsight we probably shouldn't have tried to do this,” Hofman said. “That was about as early as we've ever played and as late as we ever played, it was kind of strange.” It was also a strange experience for Godley. “It was kind of slow,” he said. “At halftime I told the guys, 'We have to run our offense faster, it's like we're running in slow motion.' It's hard to play at nine o'clock, it's past my bedtime that's for sure.”

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