Spark plug: If there was an award for the best sixth man in the area, Dallas Rutherford would have to be considered one of the front-runners for the honor, particularly after Saturday’s performance. The 6-foot-3 junior from Campbell Hall of North Hollywood scored eight of his season-high 17 points in a crucial stretch of third quarter and added five rebounds in 78-64 victory over Francis Parker of San Diego in the Div.IV regional semifinals. The breakout game comes as a good sign for Rutherford, who’s been hampered by a troublesome knee injury for a majority of the season, and for the Vikings (31-1) heading into Saturday’s regional final against Horizon of San Diego (24-6) at 7 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton. “That was the real Dallas that everyone saw on Saturday,” Rutherford said. “I’m feeling normal again. Everything is coming together now. “The coaching staff has taken some heat for me this year, but they’ve kept their faith in me and that’s been big. I just needed one game to get things going. I’ve got my confidence back.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Hofman, who was ejected from a game for the first time in his 21-year coaching history with the program. “I wonder about the referees’ judgement. From my experience, 99 out of 100 officials use a little more professionalism.” Hofman picked up the first technical midway through the first quarter and was tossed after picking up his second at the 3:46 mark of the second quarter after Darren Ho was called for a blocking foul. “I certainly didn’t demean the officials in any way,” Hofman said. “In fact, I was sitting down on the bench when I got thrown out. There was no warning on either technical. It was a little bit outrageous.” Veteran assistant Jeff Stephens will take over for Hofman. He’ll be aided by Jim Harvey, Ray O’Brien and Chris Evelyn. “My assistants have more than 60 years of coaching experience, so they’re competent and I have all the faith in the world in them,” Hofman said. “The kids know what we expect from them too. They know the system better than anyone.” Most consider Tom Hofman to be one of the more personable, mild mannered boys’ basketball coaches in the area. The door to his office at LaCanada High is seemingly always open to players, parents and the media. He’s more than willing to take time out of his busy schedule to answer just about any question, often providing insightful and informative responses in his own unique, subdued way. That’s what makes the circumstances surrounding his two technical fouls and subsequent ejection from Saturday’s 65-58 victory over Mission Bay of San Diego in a Div. III Southern California regional semifinal game all the more puzzling. According to Southern Section rules, if a coach is ejected from a game, he’s automatically suspended from the next contest, meaning Hofman won’t be on the sideline when the Spartans (30-3) face Artesia of Lakewood (31-2) in Saturday’s regional final at Pauley Pavilion.