PASADENA — For three quarters, the Pasadena High School boys basketball team showed just why it could bring home its 10th consecutive Pacific League championship.
From seemingly effortless fastbreak points, big runs to extend leads and a trademark defensive stand, it was easy to see how the Bulldogs at one point held on to a 20-point lead.
In the fourth quarter, Pasadena showed its youth and Burbank showed resilience, pulling within eight points in the final minute.
With that kind of complacency, it’s no wonder Pasadena coach Tim Tucker wasn’t overly pleased with a 69-58 win Wednesday night in the Pacific League opener for both schools.
There used to be a time when past Pasadena (8-5, 1-0) teams would extend big leads, not let them diminish. That’s the result of a young back court and new team still learning to close out games.
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“We fight ourselves,” Tucker said. “We get up big and we stop playing and start playing for the crowd. When we’re playing ball we’re pretty damn good. When we satisfy, we satisfy fast and teams start fighting back and we throw the bail away.
“Give credit to Burbank, they didn’t quit. They wanted to still play while we celebrated too soon.”
Pasadena ended the first quarter on a 10-2 run and did so after establishing a strong post with Brandon Jolley inside. The 6-foot-5 junior forward was dominant from start to finish. He finished with a game-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks. His effective play inside opened the floor for senior guard Blake Hamilton (12 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) and sophomore point guard Ajon Efferson (11 points, six steals, six assists, four rebounds). Senior John Haywood added 11 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Burbank (8-6, 0-1) was held to 4 of 11 shooting in the first quarter, but perhaps the telling tale was in the rebound department: Pasadena outrebounded Pasadena, 38-19. Pasadena was fueled by an 11-2 run in the second quarter to make it 36-18 with 56 seconds left in the second quarter. Pasadena’s final two possessions in that span featured a player staring down Burbank’s bench after a long jumper and another player pointing to the crowd.
“That’s uncharacteristic for a Pasadena team,” Tucker said. “We’re doing stuff that we’re not about. If I’m calling a timeout I’m not calling a timeout to break any momentum. I’m calling a timeout to coach my team for that game when we play on the road in CIF and we need to stay focused.”
Burbank’s Alex Voskanian hit a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left on the next play. Pasadena then turned the ball over with 12 seconds left, leaving Burbank’s Remy Youssefi to drive in for the layup plus the foul, giving Burbank some momentum heading into the half.
Burbank’s Andre Spight hit five free throws and then nailed a 3-pointer to make it 64-54 with 1:19 left in the game. Pasadena turned the ball over on the inbounds pass before Youssefi turned it into an easy layup to pull Burbank within 64-56. Jolley hit five clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
“We’re known for defense but when we get ahead we’re not playing killer defense,” Tucker said. “We’re still figuring out how to finish games.”