By Tim Peterson
(Anaheim) – Bryce Hamilton led a furious rally in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough as Pasadena fell to Esperanza 68-58 Saturday night in the CIF Division II State Semi Final.
The Bulldogs were down by seven at halftime and after being outscored 20-8 in the third quarter, they found themselves down 19 after three. But they stormed back in the fourth to put a scare in Esperanza. Hamilton led the charge knocking down five three pointers and had 19 in the fourth. Pasadena got as close as five points at 62-57 but Esperanza hit its free throws down the stretch and was able to hold on for the victory.
Hamilton, who led all scorers with 34 overall, was six of eight from the floor in the final quarter including five of six from downtown, and two of three from the line.
Esperanza led 18-12 after one as Kezie Okpala, who is committed to Stanford, buried a pair of threes and had 10 in the quarter. Hamilton matched him with 10 of the Bulldogs 12 in the first.
The Aztecs still led 29-22 at the break but then broke it open in the third quarter. Esperanza came out and blitzed Pasadena in the third quarter going on an 18-4 run to increase the lead to 47-26. Okpala scored nine in third as the Aztecs opened up a 49-30 lead by the time it ended. Esperanza outscored Pasadena 20-8 in the quarter.
The Dogs looked dead and buried before making the valiant run in the final frame. After Hamilton, the scoring dropped off. Darius Brown II finished with 10, Darius Mason and Jesse Watkins each had six.
Okpala led the Aztecs with 27, but he had plenty of support. Jared Obermeier had 17 including four threes, Brandon Harrick had eight and Garret Geiger scored six.
The Bulldogs also made it to the CIF Final where they lost to Harvard-Westlake. They avenged that defeat by beating Westlake in the State Regional Semi Final before coming up short against Esperanza. Pasadena finished the 2016 -’17 campaign 27-7 overall.