Pasadena 50, Arroyo Grande 35
Renaissance Academy 67, Cal Lutheran 45
By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
ANAHEIM — It takes more than wins to build on Pasadena High School’s storied legacy.
Championships are all that matter.
On Saturday afternoon, the No. 2 seeded Bulldogs etched their name in Pasadena lore, bringing home the school’s fifth CIF-Southern Section championship with a 50-35 win over Arroyo Grande in the Division 3AAA finals at Anaheim Arena.
It was Pasadena’s (25-6) 11th trip to the finals in school history.
The emotion of winning was joy and a mix of redemption. Brandon Jolley remembers vividly what it was like to lose two years ago to Eisenhower at the Honda Center. He said that memory would stay with him the rest of his life if he didn’t win a ring against the No. 8-seeded Eagles.
Jolley, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, made sure to replace that memory, scoring a game-high 18 points on 7 of 15 shooting. He’ll measure for a championship ring soon.
For Pasadena coach Tim Tucker, the title was especially meaningful because for so long the second title eluded him, slowing down his quest to join his former coach and mentor George Terzian as a two-time champion at Pasadena. Tucker previously led the Bulldogs as a player to titles in 1977 and 1978, but as a coach Tucker lost to Mater Dei in 2002 and Compton Dominguez in 2005.
Elusive no more.
“It puts me in great company,” Tucker said. “It’s speical. You want to be able to leave a legacy of doing something great.”
Pasadena 50, Arroyo Grande 35
Pasadena 9 11 7 23 — 50
Arroyo Grande 2 8 13 12 — 35
Pasadena: Brandon Jolley 18, Blake Hamilton 10, Ajon Efferson 9, John Haywood 9, Isaiah Johnson 3, Jeffrey Mcclendon 1.
Total FG: 19 of 53 (35.8 %). 3PT FG: 2 of 6 (33.3%). Free throws: 10 of 17 (58.8%). 15 steals, 12 turnovers, 9 assists, 35 rebounds (24 defensive, 11 offensive). Points off turnovers: 18. Second chance points: 7. Points off bench: 4.
Arroyo Grande: Brent VanderVeen 12, Matt Willkomm 11, Gunnar Gomez 8, Brennan Rivera 2, Jackson Zimmerman 2.
Total FG: 14 of 45 (31.1%). 3PT FG: 2 of 13 (15.4%). Free throws: 5 of 8 (62.5%). 21 turnovers, 7 assists, 6 steals, 30 rebounds (8 offensive, 22 defensive). Points off turnovers: 13. Second chance points: 2. Points off bench: 0.
Largest lead: Pasadena 50, Arroyo 35 (15 points). Lead changes: 0. Number of ties: 1.
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Pasadena had the mismatch almost all game, but for almost the entire game it was mostly miss. The Bulldogs couldn’t build on their early lead, shooting 3 of 15 in the first quarter before taking a 20-10 lead at the half.
It was Pasadena’s defensive staple that carried it through, even when Arroyo Grande pulled within 37-31 with 3:17 left in the third quarter on a Matt Willkomm jumper. Pasadena opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run.
Arroyo Grande was held to a single field goal for its only points in the first quarter, and the Eagles didn’t record another field goal until 3:36 left in the second quarter on a Gunnar Gomez drive-in layup.
“I thought we got kind of lazy in our defense and started to rush shots,” Tucker said. “Everybody knows that when we rush shots it puts us on offense for all of five seconds and then have to get back.”
Pasadena senior Blake Hamilton made a steal at midcourt in the second quarter and converted with a thunderous two-handed dunk with 58.2 seconds left to make it 17-10.He finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds and seven steals.
Ajon Efferson apparently had no lingering from an ankle sprain in the semifinals. He had a bounce to his step, finishing with nine points. Freshman Jeffrey McClendon saw a lot of early playing team and Isaiah Johnson came off the bench. He hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter.
John Haywood, who scored nine points and dished out three assists, made a key steal in the third quarter that helped spark the Bulldogs. He converted the layup and Raymond Jackson then stole the inbounds pass. Pasadena didn’t score on the turnover, but the tone was set from that point until the end of the game.
Pasadena held Arroyo Grande to 31 percent shooting (14 of 45) and forced the Eagles into 21 turnovers. Pasadena scored 18 points off turnovers. The Bulldogs also outrebounded the Eagles, 35-30.
Arroyo Grande’s Brent VanderVeen, a 6-5 forward who is a quarterback bound for Oregon State, was not a factor inside. He finished with a team-high 12 points on 6 of 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“Their pressure really bothered us all night,” Arroyo Grande coach Ryan Glanville said.
As for guarding Jolley, the plan didn’t pan out.
“Our plan with him was to play him straight up,” Glanville said. “He’s such an excellent passer, though. He was really good at finding the open guy and they had guys who could finish.”
Pasadena was all but crowned at the start of the season when it was learned the Bulldogs were in the new division. From that moment on, the pressure was on to win.
“That put a lot of pressure on me because anything short of that would have been a failure,” Tucker said. “One hundred and twenty days ago I told them this is where we had to be, and we responded.”
But the season is far from over. Pasadena will find out what seed it will receive when the pairings for the CIF State playoffs are released today. The Bulldogs are poised to make a deep state playoff run.
“We’re not done yet,” Tucker said. “We still have a lot of basketball to play.”
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