By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
It appears that the Pacifica boys’ basketball team is hitting its stride, this time Friday against their league-rival Cypress Centurions in dominant fashion, by a score of 69-49.
Pacifica’s head coach Dave Friedman spoke after the game about his team’s streak of wins and the difficulty of doing so in the tough Empire league. “I think we’re getting our swagger back a little bit. This league is really, really tough. I’ve said from the beginning, whoever ends up finishing fifth place in this league is going to be a really good team. There’s nowhere to hide, every night you’ve got to bring it. The last three games we’ve played very well.”
More impressive is the fact that each of their three wins came by a margin of twenty points or more, vaulting them up to second place after the first half of league play.
The Mariners, led by senior Chasen Conner, battled their way to a 29-25 score at halftime, but it was a 24-6 edge in the third quarter in favor of Pacifica that ultimately decided the game.
Conner finished the night as the top scorer with 25 points and six rebounds with four three-point field goals. Conner’s 25 points was enough to outscore the Empire league’s top scorer, Cypress’s Jimmy Jackson, who finished the game with 16 points.
“That was absolutely the goal. Try our best to contain [Jackson]. He’s a great player,” said Coach Friedman.
Perhaps the largest difference in the game was Pacifica’s ability to win rebounding battles despite their lack of height. Said Coach Friedman, “One thing about our team is we don’t have any size. I don’t start anyone over 6’1.” What we do have is that our guards, while they’re not tall, they’re not small. They’re strong kids that rebound well. They play bigger than they are and they’re pretty physical kids.”
Among those players is senior Albert Hughes, who leads the Empire league in rebounds. Hughes led the game with 13 rebounds, also contributing 10 points to the Pacifica point total.
Pacifica (4-2, 16-4) next played against the Tustin Tillers (3-3, 11-9) on Wednesday (result too late for our deadline). The Tillers dealt Pacifica one of their two league losses on January 5 and the Mariners will look to even the score in the rematch.
After that, Pacifica visits Kennedy on Friday, followed by traveling to Valencia High next Tuesday. The Mariners will conclude the Empire schedule with home games Feb. 9 and 11 against Yorba Linda and Cypress.