By Jung Su Park
Photos by Stephanie Kim
South Pasadena won its third straight league game with a 77-69 win over Temple City. The Tigers are undefeated so far in league season and currently stand at the top spot in the Rio Hondo league standings.
Senior Joey Toyama made a thunderous return from his one game suspension, and led the Tigers to victory, dropping a game-high 27 points. Key contributors senior Christian Lee and junior Greg Luck added to the effort with 15 and 19 points, respectively.
The Tigers got off to a hot start, especially behind the three point line, connecting a whopping 26 points in the first quarter while limiting Temple City to only 14. Tiger backcourt consistently pressured the opponents’ ball handling and forced the Rams to commit numerous turnovers from stepping out of bounds. Tigers were then rewarded with multiple possessions and converted the Rams’ turnovers into baskets. South Pas kept up the effort throughout the second quarter and finished the first half up 47-30 with a seventeen point cushion heading into the third and fourth quarters.
“We converted their mistakes into our opportunities for a great load of scoring,” Lee said when asked what was going right for the Tigers throughout the game. “We shook and scattered their defense with smart passing for easy baskets.”
The defensive barrier that the Tigers maintained during the first half momentarily weakened near the end of the third quarter as the Rams began to chip away at the deficit, eventually bringing it to single digits with 40 seconds left on the clock in the third. South Pas allowed the Rams to outscore them 21-14 in the third, but held onto a ten point advantage at the start of the fourth. A turnaround seemed possible for Temple City. The Tigers, however, did not allow another run as they answered each Ram basket with a basket of their own to keep the trade nearly equal at 18-16 throughout the fourth quarter, scoring just two points fewer than the away team. The Tigers outlasted the Rams’ final push and claimed a 77-69 win.
“We just have to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves,” Toyama said. “We have to keep this confidence and streak going. I believe we have a great chance of finishing 10-0 this season.”
The Tigers are looking to stay undefeated in league and keep the winning streak alive with an away victory against the Monrovia Wildcats on Friday, January 23.