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Tigers win with league on line

Basketball: South Pasadena boys defeat La Cañada, 44-38, with almost 90% free-throw shooting.

February 08, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — There was a power shift in the Rio Hondo League Tuesday night and it came at the free-throw line.


The South Pasadena High boys’ basketball team shot 88% (21 for 24) from the charity stripe in the game, while La Cañada shot 53% (9 for 17) in a 44-38 Tigers victory at La Cañada High.

The Tigers’ Alireza Jabalameli, who finished with a game-high 19 points, said it’s because practice makes perfect.

“Believe it or not, we actually spend one hour almost every practice shooting free throws and that pays off right here,” Jabalameli said.

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The win puts La Cañada’s bid for a third straight league crown in serious jeopardy and delivered South Pasadena a share of its first league crown since 1991, South Pasadena first-year Coach Tim Brown said.

“I don’t know if the guys really believed me when I told them they could [win league],” Brown said. “These guys made history. This is huge for our school and our program, that’s the kind of legacy these guys are going to leave.”

It was another struggle offensively for the Spartans (14-11, 6-3 in league), La Cañada Coach Tom Hofman said.

“This is like our eighth game in the 30s and in 26 years we’ve had like five of them,” said Hofman, whose team has won 10 of the last 11 league crowns. “We have to do a better job with our balance. We’re depending on one or two people a game [for offense] but the defense keeps them in it.”

South Pas (15-10, 7-2) got a huge lift from sub Harry Yadav when he hit a three-pointer to break a tie and scoring drought that lasted more than two minutes from both teams to give his team a 34-31 lead with four minutes to go.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Yadav, who had only spent a few seconds on the floor as a late sub before taking the shot. “I went out there, I was open, my teammate made a great pass and I knocked down the shot.”

Yadav had just made his first appearance in the game a few seconds earli¿  er, but had no trouble stepping into the three.

The Spartans missed a three of their own on their next trip down the floor but their defense gave them chances to stay in the game.

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