The first thing that comes to mind when people talk about Pasadena High School is its rich history in boys basketball. No doub the Bulldogs are synonymous to succecss when it comes to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
Pasadena (24-6) will make its 11th trip to the finals when it meets Arroyo Grande (22-8) at a time, date and site to be determined later this week.
That the Bulldogs are making an 11th trip is impressive enough, but perhaps even more impressive is the rich history than links that success to Pasadena coach Tim Tucker and his family.
The Tuckers have been involved in nine of those 11 appearances.
Pasadena made its first finals appearance in 1943 when it lost to Redondo in the major division. It would be 29 years before the Bulldogs reaturned to the big stage, led by legendary coach George Terzian and All-American and Oregon State four-year starter George Tucker.
Pasadena in 1972 reached the major division final, losing to Verbum Dei. Pasadena returned in 1973 and again lost to Verbum Dei.
Tim Tucker was a member of the very first Pasadena team to bring home and help fill the school’s trophy case. Pasadena beat Long Beach Poly in 1977 to win the CIF-SS major division championship, state and mythical national championship. Tucker, a senior, then led the Bulldogs again in 1978, exacting revenge against Verbum Dei to bring home the school’s second CIF-SS title.
“It’s special,” Tim Tucker said. “To watch my brother play here and to play gfor George Terzian was pretty amazing because playing for Terzian was like playing for John Wooden of high school basketball back in the day.
“To come to this school and be known as George Tucker’s little brother was amazing, and then to go on and win two championships and become the head coach here is all pretty shocking and amazing. I never thought that would have happened, and to be here 17 years is still amazing.”
The other time a Tucker famiily member was not part of a finals run was in 1995 when Pasadena beat JW North in overtime, 60-58, under head coach Bill Duwe.
Tim Tucker made his first finals run as a head coach in 2002 when the Bulldogs lost to famed coach Gary McKnights and nationally-ranked Mater Dei, 55-49, in the Division II-AA finals at the then-Anaheim Pond. Pasadena returned to the finals in 2005 and lost to Russell Otis and nationally-ranked Compton Dominguez, 57-51, also at The Pond.
The third time proved to be the charm, as Tucker in 2007 led Pasadena to its fourth CIF championship with a 79-63 win over St. Bernard in Division II-AA at the Honda Center. Tucker’s son, Landon, was part of that team as a junior, too.
Pasadena reached the Division II-AA finals in 2009 under Tucker, losing to Eisenhower 79-73 at the Honda Center.
Tucker said he’s hungry to join Terzian as Pasadena’s only two-time CIF champion, but regardless of what happens Pasadena will always be home, and it’s not just talk.
From Tucker’s older brother, sister, to himself, his sons and daughter, they’ve all suited up for Pasadena.
“They talk about Bulldogs for life,” he said. “We’re a Bulldogs family, that’s for sure.”