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St. Francis High basketball wins La Cañada tournament

Basketball: Golden Knights hold Mark Keppel in check for 47-45 victory.

December 21, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com

LA CAÑADA — On an evening in which no particular member of the St. Francis High boys’ basketball team stood out, the Golden Knights’ defense instead took center stage in the championship game of the La Cañada Holiday Tournament versus visiting Mark Keppel.

St. Francis, which entered Saturday’s final at La Cañada High ranked third in Division III-A of the CIF Southern Section, held sharp-shooting Keppel to its second-lowest scoring game of the season in a 47-45 win.

“The chemistry is there and the defense is there,” St. Francis co-Coach Ray O’Brien said. “We worked on the defense first and figured we’d get the offense going later.”

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Keppel (7-2), ranked 15th in Division I-A, entered averaging 60 points per game and had scored 69 versus Marina and 74 against Glendale in the first two games of tournament pool play action.

Yet, for as strong as the Golden Knights’ defense played, the Aztecs made a late surge that gave St. Francis a bit of a scare.

The Golden Knights (7-1) appeared to have the contest all wrapped up with 3:37 left when junior forward Markar Agakanian (10 points) just avoided traveling and hit a fall-away four-footer to put the home team ahead, 45-31.

From that point, Keppel clawed back with seven straight points, capped by a steal and two free throws from senior guard Adam Thompson (game-high 21 points) with 1:19 remaining that brought the Aztecs within 45-38.

The Aztecs then fouled, still two fouls short of forcing a one-plus-one bonus, before eventually sending Golden Knights sophomore guard Dylan Crawford to the line.

Crawford hit one free throw, which was countered by a running layup from Justine Saisho the other way with 32 seconds left that brought the score within two possessions at 46-40.

Four seconds later, St. Francis junior Michael Allen was sent to the line and hit one of two free throws to propel the Golden Knights to a seven-point lead.

In an interesting and perhaps game-changing decision, the Aztecs went for inside baskets and layup attempts instead of attempting three-pointers.

Keppel’s lone three-point attempt of the final minute came from Thompson with two seconds remaining, a make which cemented the final score of 47-45.

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