First published in the Jan. 28 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
The South Pasadena High School varsity boys’ basketball team lost a showdown between the Rio Hondo League’s top two teams as host La Cañada scored at the final buzzer to edge the Tigers, 50-49, last Friday evening.
South Pasadena (13-7 overall record, 4-1 in league), ranked No. 9 in this week’s CIF Southern Section Division 3A poll, suffered its first league loss and fell into second place. Meanwhile, nine-time defending league champion La Cañada, ranked No. 3 in CIF, has a 3-0 league record (13-5 overall).
The Tigers opened the fourth quarter on a 10-2 scoring run to claim a 39-37 lead as senior Dillon Akers scored 10 points on two 3-pointers and a four-point play. Akers led the Tigers with a game-high 19 points, including three baskets behind the arc.
“He had a good game; he played well,” SPHS head coach Ernest Baskerville said. “But it’s not about the individual; it’s about the team. And as a team, we lost. [Akers] kept us in the game, though. When others were shooting poorly, he did a good job.”
After La Cañada tied it 39-39 in the final quarter, the following six baskets combined from both teams resulted in a tie or a lead change, highlighting the intense back-and-forth battle.
Freshman Sebastian Martinez, who finished with four points, made two free throws to give the Tigers a 49-46 lead with just over 30 seconds remaining.
However, the Spartans scored two baskets in the final minute, including the game-winner at the buzzer.
The Tigers held a 16-10 lead after one quarter as Akers and senior Sage Wayans highlighted a 9-0 scoring run. Wayans finished with 14 points.
Rounding out the scoring for South Pas were senior Jonathan Guy with seven points, senior Ezekiel Pannell scored three points and senior Niko Lawrence had two points.
The Tigers and La Cañada will have their highly anticipated rematch at SPHS on Monday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. South Pas is also scheduled to host Blair High of Pasadena in a league game on Friday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.
COACH REACHES CAREER MILESTONE
Before the La Cañada game, the Tigers matched up with visiting Rio Hondo League rival San Marino and Baskerville notched his 300th career coaching victory.
“I really like this group of kids [and] it was great to get it against a rival team,” Baskerville said. “It felt really good because I know [San Marino] wanted to stop our winning streak in league and we wanted to stop theirs.”
Baskerville’s first head coaching position came in 1997 at his alma mater, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, where he compiled 179 wins between 1997 and 2009. He recorded 35 wins at Burbank Providence between 2011-13 before adding 24 wins at Pasadena’s La Salle College Preparatory from 2013-15.
After a three-year hiatus, Baskerville returned to coaching at Burbank High and added 17 wins during his one-year stint. Currently the head coach at South Pasadena High since 2019, Baskerville added 45 wins to reach the 300 plateau (and counting).
“It’s great. I don’t know if it means I’ve been around a long time or I’ve had some success,” Baskerville said. “I look at it like this: wins are about players. I definitely want to thank all the players I’ve had over the years and all the coaches that have assisted me in getting wins. I got tons of calls, emails and text messages, and it’s just really great to see that you still touch these lives.”