Indeed, the first half of Thursday's 72-49 loss in the red regional
tournament championship game of the La Canada Holiday Classic belonged as
much to the Spartans as it did to their esteemed opponents.
The first half ended with Bishop Montgomery leading by it largest
marin until that point, 36-28.
"It was encouraging, for a half," said Spartan Coach Tom Hofman,
hoping the experience will pay off for his team later this season, and
then especially in the postseason.
Ditto said senior guard Jordan Ballard, who finished with a team-high
"I felt that, in the first half, we were step to step with them,"
Ballard said. "Then they just overpowered us in the second half. They're
the quickest team we've seen this year, but it's important for us to play
those teams, because that's who we'll see in CIF."
Ballard's assessment is fair.
The Knights (6-1) just have so much firepower, so much athleticsm.
They also had so much composure.
So even though La Canada (7-2) didn't trail by more than six points in
the first half, and although it also held six momentary leads, Bishop
Montgomery didn't fret.
The Knights, who return four starters from last season's 29-4 team,
stayed buisnesslike. They seemed sure that if they only kept executing --
which they did -- eventually La Canada would give in.
And that's what happened, albeit not until the second half as Bishop
Montgomery outscored the Spartans, 15-11, in the third period and then,
21-10, in the fourth.
"We just kind of collapsed mentally," Hoffman said. "And as soon as we
gave them that edge, we gave the game away. We just had mental breakups."
Although it wasn't perfect in the first half, La Canada, which now
plays in the third-place game against Moorpark at 6 p.m. Saturday, began
pressing in the second, hurrying shots and rushing passes. It's not
something teams like Bishop Montgomery are going to let you get away
"I think [the Knights are] the best team we've ever had in this
tournament," said Hofman, who's been on hand for all nine of the annual
holiday get-togethers at the La Canada Palace. "To beat them we would
have had to hit 15 threes.
"They just stay even-keel the whole way. They've got great coaching
and great talent, a great team. And then they have [Derrick and Errick
Craven], who are there whenever they need them".
The USC-bound 6-foot-2 Craven twins, not surprisingly, paced Bishop
Montgomery, which faces Muir for the tournament championship Saturday at
Errick got a game-high 20 points, in addition to seven rebounds and
four steals. Derrick came away with 16 points and eight rebounds.
And they received help from DeVaughn Peace, who had 12, and Fred
Washington, who had 11.
La Canada 16 12 11 10 -- 49
Bishop Montgomery 16 18 15 23 -- 72
BISHOP MONTGOMERY -- E. Craven 20, D. Craven 16, D. Peace 12, D'Oyen
5, Lee 2, Washington 11, B. Peace 4, Dodd 2.
LA CANADA -- Ballard 15, Hofman 7, Neyland 3, Swenson 2, Gaudino 3,
Moore 6, Kim 5, Turley 6, Naples 2.
Three-pointers: Ballard 2, Hofman, Neyland, Kim.