Local twist to basketball matchup

Resident McKay Anderson chose to attend La Verne Lutheran, which made it to the state final.

March 23, 2011|By Andrew Shortall,
(Raul Roa Staff Photographer )

McKay Anderson used to sit in La Cañada High gym as a child, watching his older brothers play basketball and imagining he, too, would play for the Spartans one day.

However, the 16-year old heard boos when his name was announced Saturday in the lineup before tipoff of La Cañada's CIF State Division III Southern California Regional final championship game.

That's because McKay, unlike his older brothers, was not playing for the Spartans but for La Verne Lutheran, the Spartans' oponent for the championship title.

"I thought it was funny, I really did. I didn't know if they were joking or not, but it didn't bother me," McKay said of the sour reception.

McKay didn't look up at the crowd once, although the stands were filled with his neighbors and friends. The Anderson family still lives in La Cañada. McKay's brother, Rhett, a 2006 La Cañada graduate, sat in USC's Galen Center — on La Verne's side — pulling for his brother. He was shocked by what he saw.


"They had an amazing crowd. I never had that big of a crowd when I played at La Cañada," Rhett said.

All through high school, Rhett played for the Spartans under Coach Tom Hofman. As a senior, he averaged 17.8 points and 9.6 rebounds and was named the Rio Hondo League's Most Valuable Player.

"Tom Hofman's style of basketball is really cerebral," said Rhett, adding that he picked up a deeper understanding of the game from playing under Hofman. "He doesn't have the biggest or best player on the floor, so he can't just hand them the ball and watch them dominate. His style is based on understanding the game and exploiting their advantages over the other team's weaknesses."

Today, the 23-year old junior uses that knowledge when playing forward for Yale University's basketball team.

McKay's outlook on where he'd play high school ball changed as he got older when he started playing travel basketball and meeting other coaches, including La Verne's Eric Cooper.

In 2010, McKay spent his freshman year playing for Flintridge Prep. He averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds a game. He said balancing school and basketball was too much for him at Prep, so he transferred to La Verne to play under Cooper his sophomore year. This season he's averaging 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds a game.

Rhett thinks his brother made the right call transferring to La Verne.

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