WHITTIER — The start of the 2019-2020 season for the SPHS varsity girls basketball Tigers has been thrilling after back-to-back wins — a 50-44 double overtime victory over the Whittier Cardinals on Monday and a 55-42 win over the Barstow Aztecs on Tuesday in the first two games of the first annual Arcadia High tournament, hosted at Whittier High School.
The Tigers were set to play the Arcadia Apaches on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. at Arcadia High.
The Tigers got off to a slow start on Tuesday, leading by only two points at the end of the first quarter, but South Pas was able to pull away from the Aztecs in the second quarter and finish the game off strong.
Head coach Cody Masden said his team is notoriously slow-starting.
“That’s one of the things we’re trying to get over right now, but it’s nothing that we’re not used to,” he said. “A lot of times, we’ve been fighting back and doing a good job at competing in the end, so it’s just about stepping up and everyone just playing the basketball that they are capable of playing. We have a lot of really good players, and it’s about them doing what they know they can do.”
Monday, the Tigers got off to another slow start and were down 20-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers were able to improve their defending, but the Cardinals were still up 25-15 at halftime.
The Tigers’ defense helped them climb back into the game and bring the deficit to four points as Whittier led 31-27 at the end of the third quarter. South Pasadena’s biggest strength in the game was its ability to get second-chance opportunities by crashing the offensive boards, and the Tigers tied the game at 38 apiece at the end of regulation.
The first overtime saw only six points apiece — mostly at the free-throw line for both teams. The Tigers’ fouls worked in their favor to give them the ball with seconds left on the clock down three points — and they tied the game at 44 a piece to send it to a second OT.
The team had three players foul out, and Masden said those three are big pieces for the team.
The second overtime started with back-to-back turnovers by both teams, but the Tigers were able to take control of the game, broke the tie with a 3-pointer, and played solid defense to leave the Cardinals scoreless and win the game.
Regarding the season as a whole, Masden said his team’s goal is always to win the Rio Hondo League.
“We always seem to have a couple of close matchups that dictate that,” he said. “We really want to get a preseason (meaning, non-league) tournament championship to build some confidence. We just want to make sure we’re an above-.500 team this year, take it one game at a time, and try to win every game. That’s it.”