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A whole new team

With only one returning starter, Spartan boys’ basketball looks to build success with a young squad.

December 07, 2007|By Timithie Gould

It wasn’t long ago that the Spartan boys’ basketball team was celebrating a record 30-4 season that included eight post-season games and a bid to the CIF Division III state tournament.

But 15 of the 19 players from last year’s squad have graduated, including 6-foot-8 standout Adam Malik, who is now redshirting in the NCAA Division I at UC Davis.

Yet the Spartans are on the verge of a new season — one that will showcase a whole different team and game style.

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“This is about as big a shake-up from one season to the next I’ve ever seen,” said Spartan Head Coach of 22 years Tom Hofman. “It’ll be fun, but different.”

Last year, the Spartans went 9-1 in the Rio Hondo League — their 50-57 loss to Monrovia was the team’s first league loss in six years.

“We’re coming off seven straight league championships,” Hofman said. “Our goal this season is to keep improving every week and be competitive for the season.”

Of the four returning varsity players, senior Will Baldwin is the only with substantial experience on the court. He was fifth in scoring last year with season total 126 points.

This year, says Hofman, he will be a good leader for the 14-man squad.

“He has the experience and the skills,” Hofman said of the starting forward.

Returner Will Omokawa will start as point guard, though he is coming off a broken wrist. Preseason will no doubt get him back in shape by the time league play begins on January 9.

Seniors Ryan Lew and 6-foot-3 Steven Johnson, with junior Clark Anderson will round out the Spartans’ lineup.

“Johnson and Lew are are solid all-around,” Hofman said. “And Clark is going to be a great Spartan player.”

Anderson’s brother, Rhett, earned All-CIF accolades in 2006 and Hofman predicts a similar performance from Clark.

“He’ll be carrying the Anderson legacy,” he said.

This team will look different on offense and defense from last year’s record-breaking team, even though they’ll stick to the same motion offense and man-to-man defense.

“Last year we depended a lot on Adam,” Hofman explained. “Every game it was Adam and one other person who stepped up [to score]. Now we will have three or four people each week who will step up.”

Depth on the bench, good size on the court (eight players over 6-foot) and a more balanced offensive attack will characterize La Cañada’s team, which is hoping to contend for the league championship.

Temple City will be the team to beat this season as they have most of their players back from last season and look practiced on the court. Monrovia is usually a tough team as well, so the Spartans have their work cut out for them.

“We are going to play hard for every game,” Hofman assured. “If the young kids step up, we can be competitive.”

He is looking to a talented group of former junior varsity players to add the depth to the team, including sophomore shooting standout Jeff Griggs, sophomore back-up point guard Omar Rady and junior Riley Heaton.

Hofman will be assisted this year by coaches Jim Harvey, who has over 20 years of experience with the Spartans, Jeff Stephens and Ray O’Brien.


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