Written by Matt Wakumoto
Assoc. Sports Editor
Photos by Tucker Judkins
Managing Online Editor
The boys’ basketball team overcame its recent confidence issues with a compelling victory over the second place Blair Vikings on Friday, January 27. The narrow, 64-62 win allowed the Tigers to display their stout outside shooting, while winning their first league game of the season at home.
The Tigers opened the game with gritty coverage and dominance in fast break. The physicality of senior Stone Franco helped South Pas establish a presence in the paint and build an early 6-3 lead. Senior Matt Scholtz made a miraculous effort on an off-kilter lob from senior Lucas Fox that helped South Pas to maintain its swinging momentum. Despite being outmatched down low, Franco continued to drive with sheer strength and agility.
Blair’s sloppy ball movement allowed Fox to roll over a defender, and score easily in transition. Junior Nick Corvino continued to shoot well at home, with a pair of threes in the first half. The phenomenal effort of Scholtz provided a surplus of strength under the hoop, and gave South Pas opportunities to prolong possessions. A Scholtz rebound gave Fox another chance to execute a better alley oop.
Despite owning the momentum in the first eight minutes of regulation, turnovers allowed the Vikings to cut a seven point lead and stun South Pasadena. Blair reestablished its inside presence, cutting down any players willing to enter the backcourt. Scholtz, Franco, and Fox continued to grind in the trenches, with a collective fourteen points in the third quarter. Their persistent effort helped to wear out the Vikings and keep the game within reach.
With only eight minutes left to repair a 13 point deficit, the Tigers called upon the wits of its talented starters. Fox picked apart Blair coverage with a resilient attack from behind the arc, which opened up lanes for junior Jaylen Park to drive through. A dramatic possession and series of unsuccessful inbounds left Park open to drain a momentum-swinging three as the shot clock expired. Junior Danny Rios posted up on a daunting Blair defender to further cut the dwindling lead. The Tigers remained calm in must-score situations, driving fearlessly and bullying Blair players in the paint.
“We were just trying to take it one possession at a time. There’s no 13 point play so we just had to be confident and keep working hard,” said Fox.
There is a sign hanging on the east wall of the gym, reading “zero is our hero”. With under two minutes left in the game, Lucas “zero” Fox lived up to the hype with a clutch three to tie the game, and fire up the student body. With the score at 62-62, Blair reclaimed possession in an effort to recover its lost lead. The shaking gym and unnerving South Pas trap was enough to jar the ball loose and into the hands of Franco, who sprinted the court, and finished under the basket. With his layup, a half-season of frustration was released, upon the sour-faced Blair Vikings.
“I recognized what they were trying to do, so I timed the steal and recovered the ball. In that moment I knew I could beat the two Blair players in fast break, by using my physicality to protect the ball and get a layup.” said Franco. “Despite being nervous, I concentrated, and executed.
The Chicago Native, Lucas Fox, finished the game with an astounding 19 points. Franco finished the game with 16 points and gave South Pas an excess of strength against their towering competition. Captain Scholtz finished the game with 12 points and Park had five.
The team will prepare to face off with Monrovia at home on Wednesday, February 2.