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La Canada High girls' basketball runs away from San Marino in second half

La Canada Spartans extend four-point halftime lead over San Marino Titans to 15 in third quarter en route to 54-39 road win.

January 18, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

SAN MARINO — First place in the Rio Hondo League was up for grabs when the last two undefeated teams, La Canada and San Marino high, squared off Friday night.

The Spartans were poised to run away with the game early, shooting out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but the Titans came back strong in the second and cut the deficit to four by halftime.

San Marino couldn’t match that performance in the third frame, as La Cañada returned to its first-quarter form en route to a 54-39 victory on the road.

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“Sometimes we just have a dead second quarter and then we usually get it figured out by the second half,” said La Cañada Coach Tamar Hill, who got a double-double from junior point guard Courtney Chen (14 points, 10 rebounds).

The victory gives the Spartans, who are ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division III-A, sole possession of first place in Rio Hondo, as they improved to 12-7, 4-0 in league. They’ll look to stay perfect when they host No. 6-ranked South Pasadena (15-4, 3-1) on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.

“That’s going to be a tough match with a CIF-division opponent, so this was a game we really needed to show up to, establish who we are and make a statement going into the second half of league,” Hill said.

San Marino Coach Kenny Fisher felt Friday may have been an emotional letdown from his team, as it was coming off a one-point win over South Pas, 48-47, on the road Wednesday.

“We just didn’t come out ready to play. We were doing stuff that’s uncharacteristic of us,” said Fisher, citing the Titans’ 14 turnovers and sloppy defense. “I don’t think we were mentally into it. … Maybe it’s one of those nights and maybe it’s the energy, the charge of the last game and all of the emotion of that.”

The Spartans jumped out to an 11-point lead, 20-9, with 30 seconds to go in the first when Keilee Bessho (12 points) cashed in a putback bucket. San Marino responded with a 14-7 run of its own to narrow the lead to 27-23.

It was the long-range shooting the Titans (12-8, 3-1) have become known for under recent years that led them back with 12 of those points coming on three-pointers with Jessica Pleitez (12 points) hitting three of them.

La Cañada started and closed the third quarter with a 7-0 and 6-0 run, respectively. Chen extended the Spartans’ lead to 11, 34-23, when she sank a three-pointer 1:29 into the second half.

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