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La Cañada High stymies Eagle Rock in state opener

Basketball: Borland three-pointer vaults Spartans past Eagle Rock, 52-49.

March 12, 2014|By Nathan Cambridge, Special to the Valley Sun

EAGLE ROCK — La Cañada High’s girls’ basketball’s run in the CIF Southern Section Division III-A tournament ended in the semifinals with a road loss to the Eagles of Santa Margarita, who went on to win the III-A title, but that did not end the Spartans’ season.

La Cañada received an invitation to the CIF State Division III playoffs and got another shot at a squad of champion Eagles on the road, when it drew the Los Angeles City Section Division III champion Eagle Rock Eagles for a opening-round matchup.

As the final seconds ticked away with the two squads locked in a tie, Spartan Sarah Borland sank a three-pointer from the corner as time expired to lift her team to a 52-49 victory to advance and end the hosts’ year by handing them their first loss on their home court this season.

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“I could feel it that it was going to be good,” Borland said of her game-winner.

La Cañada (24-6), the No. 9 seed, came out of a timeout with the ball and 18.9 seconds to go after forcing a tough shot at the other end. Senior guard Courtney Chen calmly dribbled down the seconds before driving into the lane.

“We were going to get the last shot. We’re not going to give them a little bit of time to come back,” Chen said. “If we’re going to shoot it, that was going to be our last shot and, if we didn’t make it, overtime.”

The senior then found Borland in the deep right corner, who sank the game-winner and was mobbed at center court.

“They have worked on that play for four years and they know exactly how to execute it,” La Cañada Coach Tamar Hill said. “Courtney drew the triple team, kicked it right to Sarah and Sarah just stepped up and didn’t hesitate with .0 seconds on the clock and just hits it. You can’t draw it up much better as a coach. To see your kids execute it exactly perfectly, it’s just really sweet. ... I’m so happy for both of them.”

It was the pair of four-year varsity seniors, Borland and Chen, who led the way for the Spartans. Borland finished with a team-high 19 points along with five rebounds and one assist.

Chen, who had a tough outing against Santa Margarita, scored all of her 15 points in the final three quarters, including 10 after the break, when the host Eagles led, 29-28.

Chen also had a team-high eight rebounds, two steals and four assists, with the final one keying the victory.

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