By Ted Apodaca
Pacifica High’s boys basketball team capped a 4-0 run in the Los Amigos Tournament with a 60-53 win over Garden Grove in the championship final on Saturday at Los Amigos High.
Pacifica improved to 4-1 on the season, led by a tournament MVP performance by junior guard Andrew Brown. Brown had 25 points in the championship game to lead the Mariners’ offense. Seniors Joshua Handley and Paolo Zubillaga each chipped in 11 points in the title game.
Sophomore Jerry Martinez led the Argonauts with 13 points, while Jordan Harris added 11 points. Alexis Ortega chipped in 10 for the Argonauts. Pacifica jumped out to a big early lead, taking a 16-2 lead before the Argonauts hit their first field goal. Martinez finally connected from three-point territory to cut the lead to 16-5 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
Pacifica built leads on a few occasions, and each time the Argonauts would rally back to close the gap, or take a slim lead. But it was a late run that spurred the Mariners to the title. Leading 51-47, the Mariners went on a 7-0 run to take a 58-49 lead with 1:40 left in the game.
Brown started the run with a drive through the key for a layup. He followed that with another drive in the key for a lofting jump shot. After Zubillaga converted a free throw, Brown drew a foul and converted two free throws to push the lead to 58-49.
Pacifica had led 25-24 at halftime, but extended the lead to 43-33 late in the third. But Garden Grove went on a 6-0 run to end the quarter. Martinez had two scores off offensive rebounds and put backs in the run. Brandon Coleman also had an offensive rebound to draw a foul and add a free throw point.
Nick Whitford snapped the run with a baseline three-pointer early in the fourth to give Pacifica a 46-39 lead. Garden Grove fought back and tied the game at 46-46 with a baseline three-pointer from Ortega. But a three pointer from Zubillaga and a steal and breakaway by Brown gave the Mariners the lead for good, 51-46.
Mariner coach David Friedman said his team had to switch up defenses to counteract the Argonauts’ effectiveness.
“We did a few different things tonight that we haven’t practiced much,” Friedman said. “Plan B worked for us tonight.”
Pacifica had defeated Glenn, La Quinta and Sage Hill to get to the tournament championship game. Garden Grove had defeated Century Samueli Academy and Bellflower to get to the championship game, and improved to 5-1 on the season.
“I felt that in this tournament, we’re starting to re-establish out style of play and our identity,” Friedman said.
Friedman said the Mariners have to play an up-tempo game to be successful. He said their tempo was much improved during the tournament. He said that they are still not shooting as well as they did in summer and fall leagues, but that it should come back.
“We’re playing to a tempo that I feel will give us a chance,” Friedman said.
The Mariners host El Modena in a non-league game on Friday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. They will open the Loara Tournament against Loara, on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. at Loara High.
Garden Grove will host Laguna Hills on Monday, Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. and will play at El Modena on Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m.