Tigers score 25 in the fourth quarter for their first league win
By Christian Romo
Up by 13 early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings looked on their way to a comfortable victory. But an explosive quarter and a dramatic layup from senior Stone Franco (4) brought the last-place Tigers their first league win of the season.
Behind quick ball movement and a last-minute flourish, the South Pasadena Tigers (7-14, 1-5 Rio Hondo) upset the Blair Vikings (16-5, 4-2), 64-62, Friday night in South Pasadena. With the game tied with less than a minute left, Franco intercepted a pass near midcourt and zipped towards the basket, muscling in the game-winning layup. “I knew he was going to pass it to the middle, they had done it multiple times during the game, so I went for it,” said Franco.
Senior Lucas Fox (0) converted a four-point play early in the quarter to start the comeback and tied the game with a three-pointer with less than two minutes left. “I knew I could knock it down,” he said. “I make those shots in practice, and I just shot it with confidence.” Fox led the Tigers with 19 points, shooting 5 of 7 from three-point range and making all of his second, third, and fourth quarter attempts. “We were just knocking down shots today,” he said.
Blair started slowly, but eventually built a 13-point lead when junior Dezmond Washington (23) took over with eight points and two steals in the third quarter. Washington finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four steals, demonstrating an all-around performance the Tigers couldn’t contain. But just as quickly as they built a lead, the Vikings let it slip away.
“We should have put them away early, but we let down a little bit. We got overconfident and gave them life, let them back into the game,” said Blair coach Alon Margalit. After limiting the Tigers to 25 first-half points, the defense sputtered against South Pasadena’s ball movement and long distance shots. “They have to learn to approach every game the same way. I feel like we get up for certain games, and we don’t get up for other games,” said Margalit.
Two made free-throws from Franco followed by a three-pointer from junior Jaylen Park (2) brought the Tigers within one point with 1:49 left to play. Franco finished with 16 points and three steals, including the interception that brought them a win. “In the past, we’ve had games where we just gave up, but in this game we were determined,” said Franco.
Tigers assistant coach Ben Cordeiro agreed with Franco, saying: “I thought we played together and hung together. Other games we’ve been close, but we haven’t stayed together for the entire 32 minutes.” Senior Matthew Scholtz (23) tallied 14 points and five rebounds for the Tigers, managing his team’s passing through the larger and quicker Blair defense. “I thought the guys did a good job of fighting through a few setbacks as a team. Each contributed and helped us pull out the victory,” said Cordeiro.
With only four games left in the regular season, the Tigers now have an opportunity for a playoff birth. Meanwhile, the Vikings, who entered the game challenging La Cañada for first place, now need help from the rest of the league for a shot at the title. Maraglit, however, thinks his teams can persevere: “We just gotta get better at all facets of the game. We’re going to rally around this, get better, and get strong.”