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La Cañada High girls' basketball dealt first league loss by South Pasadena

Basketball: Nine-game win streak snapped for Spartans in 66-58 loss.

January 31, 2014|By Emin Avakian, Special to the Valley Sun
  • La Cañada High's Keilee Bessho dribbles around the defense of South Pasadena's Lexie Scholtz in a Rio Hondo League girls' basketball game at South Pasadena on Friday. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
La Cañada High's Keilee Bessho dribbles…

SOUTH PASADENA — For the first time in 2014, the La Cañada High girls’ basketball team suffered a defeat.

The Spartans were riding a nine-game winning streak and had won 12 of the last 14 coming into their Rio Hondo League matchup with South Pasadena, a team they beat by 25 points at home on Jan. 15.

It was the lone setback in league play for the Tigers, who looked to have extra motivation in the second and final regular season meeting between the two squads on Friday evening at South Pasadena High School.

PHOTOS: LCH girls' basketball team faces first league loss

Ultimately, South Pasadena’s must-win situation coupled with La Cañada’s slow start proved to be two major catalysts in the Spartans falling, 66-58.

“It’s their gym and a big game for them,” said Spartans Coach Tamar Hill, whose team is now tied atop the Rio Hondo League standings with South Pasadena at 5-1. “First time around, we beat them by a lot and I was telling one of my coaches that as far as adjustments, there was not a whole lot for us. They had a whole lot more to look at and they took advantage.”

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Hill’s Spartans were led by Courtney Chen’s 16 points, but it was a loose ball at the 2:04 mark of the fourth quarter that resulted in an ankle injury for the senior guard, and possibly a sleepless night for the head coach who took over the program in 2000.

“What I take away from this game is hoping that Courtney’s ankle is OK,” said Hill, who led the Spartans to the Rio Hondo League championship and the CIF semifinals last season. “That’s more important in the long run than a cold night from the field.”

Chen missed the season opener with a concussion. The Spartans (18-4, 5-1) were dealt the same injury coming into the contest with South Pasadena (13-5, 5-1), with junior center Haley Miller missing the game with a concussion.

Still, aside from the slow start that resulted in an 18-6 Tigers lead after one quarter of play, the Spartans played tough throughout the league game and bounced back from the forgettable first eight-minute frame to outscore South Pasadena, 24-17, in the second quarter, sparked by three three-pointers — two from Chen, who led the team with 10 first-half points.

Sarah Kurdoghlian put in seven of her 12 points in the second, including five unanswered to bring the Spartans within five at 35-30 going into halftime.

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