February 28, 2017

Boys Basketball Heading to CIF Final

The #2 Pacifica Christian Tritons will play #1 Carnegie Schools Riverside this Saturday, March 4th, at Godinez Fundamental High School in Santa Ana, 4pm tip-off. General Admission $14.00, Students w/ID $5.00, Children 5-13 $5.00. Go Tritons!!!

Article written by: David Carrillo 

Twenty-seven seconds in, and Dominick Harris went down, spraining the same right ankle he did the last game. Pacifica Christian’s freshman sensation limped off the court, and for a while, the mood inside the gym turned gloomy.

Without their point guard, the Tritons fell behind Ventura Foothill Tech in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 boys’ basketball playoffs.

In the corner, the trainer worked on Harris. He got up and hopped around, testing the ankle. Then he ran on it, to see how it felt.

The trainer gave Harris the OK to return. About five minutes later, after he stepped on someone’s foot and got hurt, he made it back in. Thirty seconds is how long it took Harris to take his first shot, a three-pointer. He was a little off, and it was Harris’ supporting cast who carried Pacifica Christian when Harris looked a little slower than normal.

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Freshman players like Timmy Bahadoor, Cal Whitney and Josh Sims, and the oldest and biggest player on the team, 6-foot-9 junior Josh Griffith, kept the Tritons in it.

When their star player, who averages 26.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.3 steals per game, was not dominating as he usually does, other Tritons stepped in and continued a special season. In their debut varsity season, the Tritons reached the section finals.

Behind a team effort, host Pacifica Christian edged Foothill Tech, 64-59 win, on Friday.

Whitney finished with 23 points and three three-pointers, while Harris had 16 points. Bahadoor produced 11 points. Sims and Griffith added six points each, and Griffith grabbed eight rebounds.

The No. 2-seeded Tritons (23-3) play No. 1 Riverside Carnegie (17-6) next week. Carnegie ruined an all Pacifica Christian finale, as it beat Santa Monica Pacifica Christian, 90-51, in the semifinals on Friday.

“We’re just happy to be here,” Tritons Coach Jeff Berokoff said. “It’s just an exciting time for this school and for all these kids, all the families.”

Berokoff began at Pacifica Christian, a private school in Newport Beach with 95 students, last year. They won one game playing a non-varsity schedule.

Berokoff now has the Tritons one win away from bringing a section crown to the school.

“It’s exciting,” said Bahadoor, whose team also secured a berth into the CIF State Southern California Regional Division 5 playoffs by making the section finals. “The first time ever as a school and as a player.”

Without Bahadoor’s play in the first quarter, No. 3 Foothill Tech (23-6) jumps out to a big lead. Seeing Harris go out, Bahadoor took it upon himself to pick up the slack offensively.

The guard scored seven first-quarter points, all because he attacked the paint. One of those times he drove in for two, the Dragons fouled him. Bahadoor completed the three-point play at the free-throw line.

Pacifica Christian took a 13-10 lead after eight minutes.

“What was great about [Harris being out] was those other guys, especially big Josh Griffith, [stepped up],” Berokoff said. “I think he had about six rebounds in about those [five] minutes [Harris was out], and really, really helped us out a lot.

“[Harris] spent about five minutes out of the game recuperating. Heck of a job by those other guys to really hold the fort down.”

Harris began to make shots in the final three quarters, a stretch in which the contest was tight.

Going into the final quarter, it was even at 49-49. Harris scored half of his 16 points in the third quarter, and Whitney had seven in the third.

Whitney and Harris, along with Bahadoor, helped the Tritons build a 58-51 lead, their largest advantage. Each recorded a three-point play. Bahadoor hit his from behind the arc to open the fourth quarter, Harris at the charity stripe after the Dragons fouled him on a successful reverse layup, and Whitney knocked down a wide-open three.

With 4:34 left, the Tritons led by seven. But Foothill Tech got within, 61-59, on Devin Brown’s three-pointer with 40 seconds to go.

The Dragons had a chance to tie or take the lead 16 seconds later, but Tyler Ragan-Sutton, who scored a team-high 21 points, shot an ill-advised three and missed. Whitney came up with the rebound, and his two free throws made it 63-59.

The Dragons tried to cut the deficit to one, but Bahadoor blocked Colin Vallance’s three-point attempt. Bahadoor secured the loose ball, and Foothill Tech fouled him, sending him to the free-throw line with nine seconds remaining.

Bahadoor made one of two free throws, and the Tritons were on their way to a section championship game. With the game on March 3 or 4, Harris has time for his ankle to heal.

“I wasn’t worried at all,” Harris said of when he was out in the first quarter. “I trusted my teammates to make the right plays.”

Peñaloza Contact Reporter– Daily Pilot
(Photos by Kevin Chang | Daily Pilot)

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