First published in the Feb. 4 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
It wasn’t as dramatic the second time around, but South Pasadena High School’s varsity boys’ basketball team got the result it wanted as the Tigers narrowly defeated visiting La Cañada, 65-62, during the highly anticipated Rio Hondo League rematch on Monday evening.
South Pasadena (7-1 league record, 16-7 overall) got off to a quick start on Senior Night as seniors Sage Wayans and Dillon Akers sparked a 9-0 scoring run to open the first quarter, forcing La Cañada to call timeout within the game’s first two minutes.
“I think guys were excited because of Senior Night, [their] potential last home game in here unless we get some in the playoffs,” SPHS head coach Ernest Baskerville said.
Wayans had a dominant performance, racking up a game-high 25 points with four rebounds and two steals.
“La Cañada didn’t let Sage really play last time and he didn’t really make some of his shots. We made adjustments during practice the last couple of days to show him where he should be and he’s doing his job; he’s listening,” Baskerville said.
Akers did a bit of everything by posting 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals, while senior Jonathan Guy added 14 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
“Johnny and Dillon are two seniors that we can depend on,” Baskerville said. “Johnny hit a couple of open threes and so did Dillon to really spark some of the energy while Sage was out. They did it again in the fourth quarter.”
The Tigers led the entire first half until La Cañada briefly made the matchup interesting by taking the lead heading into the final quarter. It was, indeed, brief because Guy converted a three-point play to tie it at 47 apiece. South Pasadena cushioned its lead on a 7-2 scoring run to make it 53-49 midway through the quarter.
La Cañada got within three points deficit before the Tigers ran out the clock to secure the victory.
“We almost got into the same situation as last time. We used fouls smartly this time and didn’t use them too early,” Baskerville said. “I love the way we started, loved the way we finished the first half but we started the third quarter awful. One thing about our guys is they are resilient. They did a good job of holding tight down the stretch today.”
Senior Ezekiel Pannell scored 10 points while senior Niko Lawrence ended with four points and five rebounds. Freshman Sebastian Martinez saw a few minutes of action and recorded one rebound, one assist and one block, while junior Nick Chabot had one rebound.
South Pasadena, which is tied for first place in the league standings with San Marino (7-1 league record), is scheduled to conclude the regular season by visiting San Marino for a crucial contest that will determine the winner of the Rio Hondo League. The Tigers have an opportunity to clinch the school’s first league title since the 2011-12 season.