PASADENA — The Pasadena High boys' basketball team's Friday night playoff opponent, Downey, got stuck in traffic en route to the Bulldogs' gym, delaying the start of the game 15 minutes.
The end of the contest couldn't come soon enough for the home team.
Pasadena withstood a late Viking rally to defeat Downey, 71-68, in the opening round of the Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs.
The Bulldogs held a 60-44 advantage entering the fourth period. After the Vikings knotted the game at 66, Pasadena Coach Tim Tucker called a timeout.
“At that point, we just wanted to win,” Tucker said. “We got away from our game plan and started to do a lot of stuff that's not characteristic of what we've been doing. Then we stopped playing defense.”
The Bulldogs' Andre Spight hit a layup and followed that with two foul shots to give his team a 70-66 lead late that it would not relinquish.
Spight scored nine of his team's 11 fourth-quarter points, finishing with 18 for the game.
“In the first half, we were looking to assist the ball,” Spight said. “In the fourth quarter, when the game got close, we had to take over.”
The “we” that Spight was referring to included teammate Brandon Jolley, who finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Jolley mentioned the homecourt advantage that kept his team out of Friday evening traffic.
“It's a really a big advantage,” Jolley said. “We practice on this court every day.”
Downey was led by senior guard Dakari Archer, who finished with 33 points, four rebounds and three assists. Archer's biggest shot of the game didn't fall, a potential game-tying three-pointer from the right corner that rimmed out as time expired.
Tucker was complimentary of Archer.
“He's going to get his,” Tucker said. “He's going to put his team on his back, and that's what he did.”
Behind stifling defense and crisp ball movement, Pasadena jumped out to a 9-0 lead seemingly before the Vikings even got off the team bus. However, Downey lingered, and Archer single-handedly kept his side in the contest, scoring 13 points in the second period as Pasadena held a 40-28 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs blew the game open in the third, going up 60-44 after a Spight three-pointer to close the frame. However, the lead wasn't safe as Downey pieced together its rally.
“Three quarters we played great ball and then we stopped playing and now we've just got to find a way to win,” Tucker said. “That's what happens in CIF.”
Jeffrey McClendon added 14 points and seven rebounds for Pasadena.
Sal Carlos contributed 13 points and teammate Jacob Garcia added 12 points for Downey.
Pasadena has now won nine consecutive games and improves to 21-5. The Bulldogs next play on Tuesday in the second round.