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La Cañada High boys' basketball snaps Temple City league winning streak

Basketball: Spartans rally from six-point halftime deficit to take first place with 68-62 win.

January 24, 2014|By Nathan Cambridge, Special to the Valley Sun

TEMPLE CITY — Recently, the Temple City High boys’ basketball team has taken over the top spot in the Rio Hondo League and La Cañada wants it back.

La Cañada has won at least a share of 10 of the last 12 Rio Hondo league titles as part of Spartans Coach Tom Hofman’s 21 Rio Hondo League titles in his 28-year varsity career at the school. However, last season it was Temple City that took home the Rio Hondo League crown, going undefeated along the way.

The two schools matched up Friday night for the first time this season in a key league contest with the Rams as host.

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La Cañada found itself trailing by six at half. The Spartans turned things around in the second half and finally caught the Rams in the fourth for a 68-62 victory, to make them the final undefeated team in league play while bringing to a halt Temple City’s 16-game league winning streak.

La Cañada (14-6, 4-0) trailed by three points going into the final quarter in a physical, hardscrabble game. The Spartans took the lead briefly early in the fourth, but the Rams (10-7, 2-1) took it right back. The contest then became a sprint to the end after Ko Ko Kurdoghlian scored to tie the game at 50 and prompted the Rams to call a timeout with 5:16 to go.

“[Temple City] is the second-best team now in league, so that’s a pretty good win for us if we want to win league,” Spartans senior Jacob Brown said.

The Spartans, ranked No. 5 in CIF-Southern Section Division 3A, then outscored the Rams, 18-12, the rest of the way, taking the lead for good out of the timeout when Daivon Grayson stole the ball and drove for a lay-in on the fast break. In the final two minutes, the Rams closed to within one, but Kurdoghlian, who had 13 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth, hit five of six free throws in the final minute to pull away, expanding the advantage before Temple City’s Goren Lee, who led his team with 17 points, put in his third basket from long distance in the fourth to set the final margin.

“This is a great win for us,” Hofman said. “This is a solid, good fundamental team, well-coached in their gym. It’s a hard place for us to play in. ... It was a good team win for us.”

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