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St. Francis High basketball holds off La Cañada late

Basketball: Golden Knights score game's final six points in defeating the Spartans, 58-51, in San Gabriel Valley Classic third-place game.

December 30, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com

MONROVIA — In a battle of long-distance shooting versus slashing penetration, perhaps it was free throws that played the biggest difference for the St. Francis High boys’ basketball team.

The Golden Knights scored the final six points of Monday evening’s neighborhood and CIF Southern Section Division III-A rivalry game in defeating La Cañada, 58-51, in the San Gabriel Valley Classic third-place contest at Monrovia High.

“It’s very difficult to play against a team like La Cañada under normal circumstances. When you have just 30 minutes to instruct your team that four of the five guys on the floor can hit a three-point shot, that’s a little different,” Golden Knights co-Coach Ray O’Brien said. “You have to have a hand in their face and realize they’re not going to go inside all that often. You have be aware of the three-point shot.”

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The Spartans (8-4), ranked seventh in Division III-A, were deadly in hitting on 14 of 32 (44%) attempts from behind the arc.

Yet, La Cañada’s final basket came on 14-foot jumper from Dan Jun, who was named to the all-tournament team after scoring 13 points and three assists, created off an assist from Jacob Brown (tied Jun for team lead with 13 points) with 3:19 remaining that brought the Spartans within 52-51.

While St. Francis (11-3), ranked third in Division III-A, did not answer offensively on its next possession, the Golden Knights defense came up with the lone turnover for either side in the quarter when senior guard Evan Crawford (15 points) stole possession at the Spartans’ three-point line and raced the other way for a layup that put the home team ahead, 54-51, with 2:39 remaining.

“We tried to guard them by attacking the driver and making sure they wouldn’t get kick-outs for three-pointers,” said Golden Knights forward Noah Willerford, who finished with nine points. “They’re a very good shooting team and they had some streaks today that kept them in the game.”

Over the next two minutes, both squads attempted to take control by going to their bread and butter, as La Cañada missed tying on consecutive three-point attempts while St. Francis missed adding to its lead on consecutive surges into the paint.

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