By Julian Prime
Photos by Matt Scholtz
The race for the Rio Hondo crown isn’t over yet. With a 68-59 win over the Temple City Rams, the boys’ basketball team has reclaimed the first place spot in the Rio Hondo standings, tied with La Canada. In front of a packed crowd in the Temple City gym, the Tigers found their rhythm that they seemed to lack for the past few games. The offense was moving the ball, their shots were falling, and they were hustling. With the win, the Tigers move to 6-2 on the season.
The first quarter started out slow for both offenses. The Rams got the ball moving first, knocking down seven straight points. South Pas Coach David Lutzeier called a timeout to regroup with his players and go over the gameplan. Junior Max Luck subbed in, and made an immediate impact. Luck completely changed the offensive dynamic for the Tigers, and they began to spread the ball around more, driving in the paint and taking open threes. Luck led the Tigers to a 16-0 run, putting them up 16-7. Temple City silenced this with a four-point play, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The first quarter concluded with the Tigers leading 18-11.
Senior Christian Lee opened up the scoring in the second quarter, hitting a three to make his team’s lead 10. The Rams answered right back, but with a two-pointer. Junior Raymond Arismendez completely juked out a Ram, and hit the easy basket that ensued. Star senior point guard Joey Toyama then got in on the action with a three from beyond the arc. Soon after, Toyama completely broke the ankles of a Ram and nailed another three. Toyama wasn’t done there, as he went on to perform an athletic layup on the fastbreak. This sudden explosion of offense put the Tigers in a dominant, 34-21 position with the half winding down. When the clock hit zero, the score remained the same and the teams went to the locker room, South Pas having an obvious advantage in momentum from their performance on offense.
A pair of countering threes opened up the second half, each team sinking a shot from beyond the arc. The Rams weren’t playing around with their offense, and started to chip away at the deficit. When the Rams brought the game to 37-31, the Tigers came alive. Junior Greg Luck stopped the Rams’ offensive dominance, and Arismendez hit a three. On the next Temple City possession, Toyama stole the ball and performed an amazing windmill layup that brought the Tigers’ crowd to their feet. The momentum would switch again, however, and the Rams started to answer the Tigers’ buckets. By the end of the third quarter, the Tigers led by a mere five points, 44-39.
The fourth quarter started out the same as the third; the Rams moving the ball well and starting to make a comeback. At one point, Temple City brought the score to 44-42, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. Arismendez hit three straight free throws, giving the Tigers some breathing room. Toyama helped out too, hitting a three, and then another. The close call was averted and the Tigers put themselves back up 53-42. The Rams hit a couple of free throws and a three, but Greg Luck answered both of those himself. A Ram two-pointer was retorted by a Toyama three. Everything the Rams did was done better by the Tigers, and this held true until the end of the game. When the Tigers were at a comfortable 65-52 lead with only a minute and a half left, the subs were put in, including freshman Jaylen Park, and junior Michael Partida. The Tigers finished the game on top, 68-59.
Throughout the entire game, both crowds were loud and spirited. Cheerleaders on both sides kept the crowd active, and students from both schools had a back and forth based on the condition of the game. The Tiger fans would have the last laugh, however, after their team shut down the large Temple City home crowd and won a crucial road game.
In addition to the win, Monrovia High School topped La Canada 38-37, putting the Tigers back in first place, albeit tied with the Spartans.
The squad is looking to keep this position with a win over Monrovia at home on Tuesday, February 10.
J. Toyama: 26 points (!), 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists
G. Luck: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist
R. Arismendez: 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist
M. Luck: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
C. Lee: 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist
Stats by Nicholas Baer