It’s been a few days since the Pasadena High School boys basketball team won the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA championship, the fifth in school history, and coach Tim Tucker reflects on the team’s celebration at Anaheim Arena, or lack thereof.
“I thought about it and I was happy, but more relieved,” Tucker said. “It’s hard when people just come out and say you’re supposed to win it or that you shouldn’t be in that division based on your talent. But we don’t have a say in any of that.
“People know that this program doesn’t run from anywhere or from anyone. But to be in that division and expected to win, that was a heavy burden on us because anything short of winning on Saturday would have been a failure.”
Pasadena, which beat teams by an average of a 15-point margin in the playoffs, didn’t jump up and down in or raise their arms in celebration. Players embraced each other with a hug and quickly proceeded to shake hands with Arroyo Grande. By contrast, Alemany, which played in the game right before Pasadena, piled on each other near mid-court after winning the Division 3AA title against Oak Park despite the lopsided score.
With a CIF-SS title now in store, Pasadena (25-9) sets its sights on the higher bar when it hosts South Torrance (19-12) on Wednesday in the CIF State Division III playoffs. The Bulldogs earned a No. 2 seed, meaning they will host every game forward save for the Southern California title game at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario and the CIF State title game at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.
Pasadena was one of three area teams that earned an invitation to the State playoffs. Renaissance Academy (24-6), the Division 6 champion, is the No. 3 seed in Division V and will play Vincent Memorial (22-6) of the San Diego Section on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Pasadena City College.
The Keppel girls, which lost in the Division 2AA semifinals, also earned an invitation. The Aztecs (27-4) are the No. 3 seed and will host West Hills (24-7) of the San Diego Section also on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Tucker on Saturday speculated Pasadena would be a No. 2 seed, citing the state rankings according to MaxPreps, and he was right.
“I’m happy that they (the CIF seeding committee) got it right,” he said. “We can play at home as long as we keep winning until we’re lucky enough to get to the final.”
Alemany is the No. 1 seed.
Pasadena has had its share of traveling during the State playoffs. The Bulldogs have made trips to Stockdale, and two years ago Pasadena played on the road at Murrieta Valley in the second round and in San Diego in the semifinals. Pasadena traveled nearly 3,000 miles playing four games in seven days, which also included a trip to the Division 2AA finals at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
“That’s why we do sprints and build endurance,” Tucker said. “For runs like this.”