By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
The Mariners entered the game as the sixth-ranked team in CIF’s Division 3AA rankings while the Pioneers were unranked, but were unable to unable to keep up with the tempo and speed of Western. “The disparity in speed and footwork is blatantly obvious,” said Pacifica head coach Dave Friedman.
After the first quarter the Pioneers had already built up a seven point lead, but it was a 13 point run in the second quarter that buried the Mariners early. Pacifica was out-rebounded 27 to 11 and was unable to make a single one of their 14 three point attempts.
Senior center Darius Taafua led the Pioneers with a season-high 31 points in the rout, but he is just one of three players that have led Western during their successful season. Senior Jonathan Smith, sophomore Jason Walker and Taafua have all averaged over 12 points per game and have teamed up to make Western the highest scoring team in the Empire League.
With 12 points from Smith and eight points from Walker, the trio finished with 51 combined points to outscore Pacifica on their own.
The two teams will face each other again on Friday, Feb. 3 at Pacifica High School, but after the defeat, Friedman wasn’t very optimistic that the result will be any different.
“Well, unless they somehow miraculously get slower, I don’t see how their style of play is going to be advantageous to us,” Friedman said. “We’ll have to formulate a game plan that makes us a bit more patient and not try to play their game.”
The loss dropped Pacifica to 2-2 in league play and 9-9 overall and they will likely have to battle with the likes of Valencia and Cypress for a chance at the postseason. Western, however, remained undefeated in league with the victory and improved to 14-5 overall.
Also undefeated in Empire League play are the Tustin Tillers. Western and Tustin will meet in a battle of the undefeateds on Friday at Western High School for a chance to sit atop the league standings alone.
Pacifica looked to bounce back from consecutive defeats to Tustin and Western when they traveled to take on the 2-3 Valencia Tigers on Wednesday night (results too late for our deadline)..