Pasadena Back in CIF Title Game; Omari Moore’s 14 Points, 11 Rebounds Key in Bulldogs Escaping With 48-46 Victory Over Rancho Verde in D1 Semifinal

Published : Saturday, February 24, 2018 | 5:53 AM

Give Rancho Verde a lot of credit.

The Mustangs held Pasadena to their second lowest (scoring) output of the season as well as devising a game plan to slow down the fast-paced Bulldogs.

Rancho Verde led by as many as 10 points and held a slight advantage for almost three quarters in Friday night’s CIF-SS Division 1 showdown at Maranatha High School.

Pasadena, though, took all the body punches and still found a way to earn the 48-46 victory over the visiting Mustangs in front of an overflow and raucous crowd.

Darius Brown II hit a jump shot with 37 seconds to play to give PHS a 48-46 lead.

The next time down, Brown went to the basket and had some contact with a Rancho Verde defender that the refs let go.

That set up the drama-filled finale.

With 17.3 seconds to play, and trailing by 2 points, Rancho Verde called a time out to regroup and draw up a play.

Tory San Antonio got the ball and waited until about 6 seconds remained on the clock and he attacked the basket.

PHS’ Omari Moore, though, made the shot difficult.

With less than 2 seconds left, Sadiq Muhammad got the rebound from San Antonio’s miss, but his last-ditch shot was altered by the defense of Darius Mason, and the PHS fans stormed the court.

There was a sense of both elation and relief for all those on the Pasadena side of things and the look of despair from their worthy opponents from Moreno Valley.

PHS and Rancho Verde had 13 lead changes and the game was tied 9 different times in Friday’s classic.

Because of the Mustangs’ focus in slowing Bryce Hamilton’s scoring by double-teaming the star senior the entire night, it paved the way for others to shine.

The guy who took the most advantage of that was fellow senior Omari Moore.

Moore had game-highs with 14 points (5 of 10), and 11 rebounds.

He also added 5 blocked shots, 2 steals and an assist.

Hamilton finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds and a team-best 6 assists.

As mentioned, Hamilton was doubled and triple-teamed all night and was held to 5-of-15 from the field, but his assists late in the game were enormous.

Darius Mason didn’t have his best shooting night (4 of 13) but the PHS junior was hugely instrumental in the win.

Mason finished with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, as well as altering the last shot of the game in which Rancho Verde went for the tie.

Darius Brown II took just six shots, but finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and had the late jump shot that turned out to be the game winner.

DBII also had 4 steals and went 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

Tory San Antonio led Rancho Verde with 12 points, Anthony Thomas had 8 and both Darryl Payton and Jaishon Forte scored 7 points each for the Mustangs.

On the stat sheet, it says Laz Morris contributed 0 points and 1 rebound.

Doesn’t sound like much, right?

This is one of those times we mention that stats don’t capture everything someone does for their team.

When Hamilton picked up his fourth foul and had to sit during a stretch in the fourth quarter, PHS coach Tony Brooks called on Morris to do his part in keeping the Bulldogs even with their star on the bench.

Morris’ coach and teammates all credited him with his blocked shot and steady play to give PHS that chance to win the game late.

And win it, they did.

PHS shot 35-percent from the field (15-of-44)

The Bulldogs made 3-of-8 from behind the 3-point arc, and converted on 9-of-13 at the free-throw line.

Tavian Percy scored 5 points, including a 3-point bucket and had 3 rebounds.

Pasadena will take its 16-game win streak next week and they will battle Chino Hills (20-11) either Friday or Saturday, and with a site yet to be determined by CIF.

The Huskies defeated Long Beach Poly, 89-78, in Friday’s other Division 1 semifinal.

The best-guess, however, is a weekend match up at Azusa Pacific University, which is the same location the Bulldogs battled Harvard-Westlake last season in a title game.

For video highlights and interviews, please click on the video at the top.

Box Score:
Rancho Verde: 13-12-11-10-(46)
Pasadena: 5-14-18-11-(48)

Rancho Verde (22-10); (Pasadena (23-6)