By Tim Peterson
(Pasadena) – Darius Brown II scored 18 points and dished out a school record 20 assists and Bryce Hamilton scored 27 points to lead Pasadena to 75-62 win over Taft Saturday night to advance to the CIF Division 1 State semi finals.
Brown was hot from the field hitting 7 of 12 shots including a pair of threes in the second quarter but his best work came in running the team and continually setting up Hamilton, Tavian Percy and the rest of the Bulldogs for slams and shots at the rim. On several occasions Brown lobbed picture perfect passes to Hamilton for alley-oop jams or found Percy flying in on the wing for a lay-up on a fast break.
When the dust had settled Brown had racked up 20 assists, a Pasadena school record- quite an accomplishment considering all of the stars that Pasadena has had come down the pike over the years.
Hamilton, who seems to get stronger as the game goes along, had a huge fourth quarter scoring 14 points, including a reverse jam that sent shock waves through the building, as the Bulldogs pulled away and buried Taft. They scored 22 in the quarter mostly on a run and gun style that electrified the crowd and resulted in a flurry of high flying run outs and slam dunks.
Taft tried to keep up by firing away from three point land but in the end it wasn’t nearly enough.
Pasadena jumped out quickly leading 13-3 early on but Taft settled in and climbed back in it as Demetrius Calip nailed four three pointers to trail only 20-17 after one. The teams played it pretty even in the second quarter. Brown was true twice from downtown and Percy had six points as the Bulldogs led 38-32 at the break.
Pasadena began to separate themselves from the Toreadors in the third quarter. The Dogs went on a 13-2 run to open the quarter to go up by 17. Brown had a three point play Hamilton threw down a Ham jam and also canned a jumper in the lane to cap the rally.
Taft managed to get within 12 by the end of the third but the Bulldogs were off and running again the fourth and that was all she wrote.
Percy joined Hamilton and Brown in double figures with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Darius Mason had 4 points and 6 rebounds and Omari Moore pulled down 10 rebounds and also had a vicious slam.
For Taft, Khalil Haywood had 12 points and 8 rebounds, Calip hit five threes to score 15 and Kihei Clark led the Toreadors in scoring with 20.
Pasadena head coach Tony Brooks liked the Bulldogs performance on offense but thought that it was brought on by the defense.
“I thought we played better defense. They (Taft) are such great ball handlers and one on one players that can get into the paint at anytime and our players had to give ourselves a little bit more room because they’re so quick and efficient at getting into the paint,” Brooks said. “So we just had to contain better. When we’re more efficient on the offensive end, we are actually a better defensive team.”
Brooks was also impressed with the play of Brown. “Darius is an activity kind of player. He can do a lot of things. He’s a stat sheet filler. He can score but he can also give the ball up and he has great timing,” Brooks said. “So what he has been for us is a coach on the court. He takes what the defense gives us and doesn’t force it so it makes us a more disciplined team.”
Next up for Pasadena is a rematch with Chino Hills in the semi finals Tuesday night. The Huskies who beat Crespi 80-76, knocked off the Bulldogs in the CIF Division 1 championship game last weekend.