A pair of ranked teams in the CIF Southern Section Division III-A clashed in the La Canada Holiday Tournament this past Saturday, and the catch-word for both was defense.
In the end, St. Francis, ranked No. 3 in the division, asserted its defensive will and edged No. 15th-ranked Mark Keppel, 47-45, in the championship game.
The Golden Knights (7-1) led 45-31 with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter when Markar Agakanian (10 points) scored.
Mark Keppel (7-2) rallied and tallied seven straight points as Adam Thompson (game-best 21 points) dropped in a pair of free throws that got the Aztecs within, 45-38, and just over a minute left.
From there, St. Francis’ Dylan Crawford hit a charity toss, but the Aztecs’ Justine Saisho put in a running layup with about a half-minute left as Mark Keppel fought to get within 46-40.
When the Golden Knights’ Michael Allen canned a free throw, it was a seven-point spread, and Thompson’s three-pointer with mere seconds left got the Aztecs within two points.
St. Francis was in front, 14-11, heading into the second quarter, and then outscored the Aztecs, 11-5, in the second quarter after limiting Mark Keppel to two hoops.
Crawford led the Golden Knights with 11 points, followed by Kyle Leufroy with 10, who was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player, and his basket with just over four minutes left in the third quarter gave St. Francis a 31-20 lead.
In another game, Hoover (6-2) slipped past Bell, 53-51, on Saturday behind Teo Davidian’s team-best 16 points and Kevin Nazari’s 10 points in a consolation match of the Pioneer tourney.
In another contest, Marina led from outset and defeated Glendale, 67-57, in a pool play game of the La Canada Holiday Classic on Friday.
The Nitros (3-4) were paced by Eric Kirakosian’s 13 points, followed by Alex Miralis with 12, while Arthur Terzyan, Tyler Lousararian and Stephan Arakelyan, all finished with 10.