league title," said La Canada Coach Tamar Hill, whose team lost its
first league game of the year.
"Monrovia wanted it real bad and they showed it."
The Wildcats (14-8, 5-1 in league) showcased their desire in the
fourth quarter, while the Spartans (16-7, 5-1) suffered through a
hellish eight minutes.
La Canada, which entered the contest ranked fourth in the latest
CIF Southern Section Division IIIAA poll, had held the lead since
early on in the first quarter. Monrovia, the division's 10th-ranked
squad, took advantage for good, though, when Anna Amparo canned a
three-pointer for the first basket of the fourth period.
After that, the Wildcats built their lead to as many as eight at
44-36. The Spartans struggled mightily, failing to score their first
bucket of the quarter until 3:44 was left in the game.
"[The Spartans] are a young team and they showed their youth today
by getting jittery," Hill said.
La Canada also displayed its tenacity in that same dismal fourth
Down by eight with just 1:35 left to play, the Spartans flirted
with the improbable.
After scoring two points on four free throws, La Canada cut its
deficit to four on an Emily Ballard put back. Ballard, consequently,
was a Spartan bright spot on the night as she notched a double-double
with a game-high 13 rebounds to go with 10 points.
Joy Lelo, who had a team-high 11 points, cut the lead to two on
the next possession, but Monrovia's Shannon Gholar knocked down both
of her ensuing free throws.
Ballard followed with another deuce that once again brought the
Spartans within a bucket with just over 40 seconds to play.
But then they found themselves in the same dire predicament they'd
been in all night as they couldn't hit another shot in their final
"We didn't hit anything tonight," Hill said.
Indeed, the Spartans shooting was abysmal to say the least.
From the field they shot just 32 percent, missing 43 of their 63
The further back they shot, the worse it got as they hit just 2 of
23 from the three-point arc.
Perhaps the most telling inaccuracy was the team's troubles from
the charity stripe as it shot just 2 of 11.
Monrovia struggled from the field, as well, shooting at just a 33
percent clip, but hit 8 of its 15 free throws.
Still, Hill is far from throwing in the towel and believes, as is
backed up by the effort late in the fourth quarter, that her team is
"We've been overachieving all year," she said of her team that
doesn't boast a single senior starter.
The Spartans, who had their nine-game winning streak ended, are
still primed for at least a share of the league title as they've
defeated each of their remaining league foes by double-digit margins.
In Hill's eyes, it's all just a matter of the magnitude of
Friday's loss. Will her Spartans sputter the next time they take the
court or recover quickly on Wednesday against Temple City?
"Obviously, we're tied for first, which kinda bites, but you hope
the team won't just roll over," Hill said. "I think we'll bounce
* GRANT GORDON covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3225
or by e-mail at email@example.com.