LA CAÑADA — Before tipping off the Rio Hondo League portion of its schedule, the La Cañada High girls' basketball team had a couple of things to ponder.
First, the Spartans began their journey in their quest to successfully defend their league title. In addition, they looked to show why they are the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division III-A.
A balanced scoring attack got La Cañada off on the right note, as Alyssa Miller finished with 14 points and Aundrea Issakhanian added 11 on Wednesday to lead the Spartans to a convincing 52-27 victory over South Pasadena, the fourth-ranked team in the division, in the teams’ Rio Hondo League opener.
"There's a lot of pressure with both of those things," said La Cañada Coach Tamar Hill, whose team won its fifth game in a row to improve to 13-4. "They responded and they knew exactly what they had to do.
"I was curious to see how they would come out. It's the first game this season where everybody was clicking."
Miller clicked from three-point territory. The senior forward finished with four three-pointers to spark the Spartans, who advanced to the semifinals last season.
Miller made a pair of three-pointers in the first half to help the Spartans build a 26-18 halftime lead against South Pasadena, which dropped to 8-5.
"We remembered last year when South Pasadena came here and beat us and we didn't want that to happen," Miller said. "We came out knowing what we had to do and we made some big shots."
The Spartans broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers, 14-3, to take a 40-21 lead.
"I'm happy with the way we took care of business in the third quarter," said Hill, who got six points apiece from senior guards Courtney Chen and Sarah Borland. "It was a pretty tight game in the first half.
"Anything could happen and I was happy with the effort."
La Cañada will next meet visiting Monrovia at 5:15 p.m. Friday.
The Spartans and Tigers will face off again at 5:15 p.m. Jan. 31 at South Pasadena.