The Spartans trailed, 22-17, at the half and were down in the fourth
quarter before turning gears and pulling out the victory.
La Canada (8-3) shot 40% from the field in the first half, attempting
just 20 shots. Known for its three-point shooting, La Canada didn't
attempt its first long-distance shot until the 5:30 mark of the second
quarter and hit just one of six in the first half.
The Spartans committed 10 turnovers in the half as well and didn't get
to the free throw line.
"Our game plan was to defend the arc and make sure that they didn't
get beat on the dribble," said Verdugo Hills Coach Scott Kemple.
Verdugo Hills, which has 11 players on its roster but played with just
seven, wasn't all that great in the first half either. The Dons (6-8)
committed nine turnovers and hit just four of 11 from the stripe.
But 6-foot-4 center Kevin Baird scored eight of his game-high 18
points in the first half to help keep the Dons ahead. La Canada's leading
scorer in the first half was Mark Moore, who had four.
The Spartans finally got going in the third quarter, but briefly. La
Canada opened with a 10-0 run to lead, 27-22. Jordan Ballard and Gary
Swaner, who each fouled out after scoring nine points respectively,
combined for five points in the run and Dan Niemann scored the other
But La Canada went back to playing sloppy basketball and the Dons took
advantage, going on an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead at, 30-27.
Moore finally scored with 23 seconds left in the quarter to stop the
run. That basket was the first one the Spartans had since the 5:32 mark
of the quarter, when Niemann hit a three-pointer.
Verdugo Hills opened the fourth by scoring back-to-back baskets to
lead, 34-29. But Billy Hofman hit a three-pointer at 5:50 and Jordan
Crane scored five points in less than a minute as La Canada seemed to
have control at, 45-37, with 2:20 left, thanks to a 16-3 run.
However, Michael Porter hit a three-pointer and Kevin Baird followed
with a three-point play and suddenly the score was, 45-43.
Crane hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to make the score,
48-45, but the Dons still had a chance after Phil Swenson failed to
convert two free throws with 12 seconds left.
But Victor Hines just missed a three-pointer and Porter's last second
desperation attempt was just long and the Spartans hung on.
"Our defense was real good in the first half, but we got careless in
second half and let them back in it," Kemple said.
"We did good in this tournament. This will prepare us for league."
Verdugo Hills 11 11 8 15 -- 45 La Canada 10 7 12 19 -- 48
VERDUGO HILLS -- Hines 7, Elliott 10, Dunbar 1, Baird 18, Porter 9.
LA CANADA -- Niemann 7, Crane 7, Racklin 2, Ballard 9, Swaner 9, Moore
6, Hofman 6, Gaudino 2.
Three-pointer: Hofman, Crane, Niemann.