PASADENA — Tis the season to be Jolley.
That’s what can be said after Pasadena High junior forward Brandon Jolley turned in a dominant effort and helped his Bulldogs kick off Pacific League play with a 69-58 victory over visiting Burbank on Wednesday evening at Hamilton Gymnasium.
The victory was the fifth in a row for Pasadena (8-5 overall, 1-0 in league), the nine-time defending league champion, and 17th straight in league play.
“Jolley is a good player...he’s our beast in the middle,” Pasadena Coach Tim Tucker said. “I haven’t seen anyone stop him yet. He’s kind of toying out there.”
Jolley finished with a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds and was also impressive at the free-throw line.
Burbank (8-6, 0-1) trailed by eight with 1:19 left in the game after scoring 10 straight points.
Senior guard Matteo Dal Monte then fouled Jolley three consecutive times, the last that put Pasadena in a one-plus-one bonus with 52 seconds remaining.
Jolley calmly hit both attempts in pushing Pasadena ahead 66-56 with 52 seconds left.
After a missed three-pointer on Burbank’s next offensive series, Dal Monte again fouled Jolley, who again drained two free throws with 42 seconds left.
A layup from Remy Youssefi, which cut Burbank’s deficit to 68-58 with 32 seconds left, was followed by a third fouling of Jolley.
This time the junior sank only one of two attempts with 26 seconds left.
“The coaching staff told the team to get me the ball because I’m one of the best free-throw shooters,” said the 6-foot-5 Jolley, who hit seven of eight free throws in the game. “I knew I was going to get fouled, so I had to make my shots.”
Jolley gave Pasadena its biggest lead of the quarter with his offensive rebound and put back of a missed jumper from Blake Hamilton with 2:24 left that pushed the score to 64-46.
Yet, Burbank rallied in scoring 10 straight points, eight which came from junior guard Andre Spight, who converted five of six free throws after being fouled on consecutive three-point attempts.
Spight then drained a three-pointer that preceded a steal at half-court and layup from Youssefi with 1:19 remaining, as Burbank forced three straight Pasadena turnovers, and pulled within 64-56 with 1:19 left.
“Our guys aren’t going to quit. We played Pasadena well in past years and I thought some of the newer players on the team played a little tentative early on,” Burbank Coach Jose Hernandez said, “but even so, you know we’re going to battle all the way through.”
Burbank pulled within 11-9 after a layup from Youssefi with 2:54 left in the first.
Yet, Pasadena closed the quarter on a 10-0 run aided by three turnovers, two being steals from John Hayward and Ajon Efferson, with the latter resulting in a coast-to-coast layup from Efferson to put Pasadena up, 21-9, at quarter’s close.
While the Bulldogs pushed their advantage to 18 points in the second, Burbank scored the last six points of the half to trail, 36-24, at the break.
Pasadena led by 18 points in the third quarter twice, but witnessed Burbank close within 10 points at 56-46 on a three-pointer from Dal Monte after a steal from Adrian Chavez.
“That’s been our M.O. and that’s what we’re fighting. We fight ourselves,” Tucker said. “We’re one of those teams that get up and get a good lead and then we stop playing and we start playing for the crowd. We’ve got to mature fast.”
Hamilton finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, while Hayward scored 11 points and Efferson totaled 11 points, six steals and six assists.
Simon Elmoyan led Burbank with 15 points and nine rebounds while Spight, Youssefi and junior guard Cane Brown all scored 11 points each.