Houston Mallette had his “Jordan game” for the Pacifica Christian Orange County High boys’ basketball team on Friday.
The junior guard put up 25 points, including seven three-pointers, to go with eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the Tritons to an 81-74 victory over host Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs at El Segundo High.
That performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that Mallette was recovering from the flu. Tritons coach Jeff Berokoff sounded astounded after the game.
The Tritons (22-7) will host No. 4-seeded La Verne Bonita (27-2) in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Bonita defeated Santa Barbara San Marcos 63-48 at home in the second round.
“I think he had  at halftime,” Berokoff said. “He was unbelievable. He is a high-level player, and he always believes he can win. We didn’t know if he was going to play today. That’s what kind of a gamer that kid is. He missed school yesterday and came to school today and was throwing up. I’m so proud of him.”
Mallette credited his team for sticking to the game plan.
“Every game I just come out with my brothers and compete,” he said. “The game plan was to play together. I’ll give it up to Mira Costa. They played well, but we rebounded pretty well and came out with the win.”
Mallette scored the Tritons’ first eight points on a night where he could barely breathe.
Pacifica Christian senior guard Charles Erving also had a strong game, adding 20 points.
Max McCalla led the way for Mira Costa (20-9), scoring 21 points and adding six assists.
The Tritons jumped out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to back-back three-pointers from Mallette. They led much of the first quarter until the Mustangs adjusted to Pacifica Christian’s aggressive full-court press.
Mira Costa never let the Tritons build to big a lead, despite Mallette’s hot start. With time waning in the first quarter, Dylan Black hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the parking lot to cut Pacifica Christian’s lead to 22-20.
Mira Costa took its only lead of the game in the second quarter off two free throws from Tyler Antrobius, putting the Mustangs ahead 28-27.
The game continued at a frantic pace in the second quarter as the Tritons jumped ahead again with another set of back-to-back threes from Mallette. The Tritons led 39-34 at halftime.
The Tritons continued to slowly stretch their lead. With 3:23 remaining in the third, Josh Sims (12 points) grabbed a rebound off a Mira Costa miss and connected a long pass to Erving for a layup to make it 52-43.
The Mustangs made Pacifica Christian work throughout the night. Black drained a wide-open three-pointer to cut the deficit to 70-62 and then made a layup on the Mustangs’ next possession to make it 70-64.
That was as close as the Mustangs would get.
Despite the deafening noise from home fans, Timmy Bahadoor converted a layup from a Mallette pass to effectively ice the game.
Mustangs coach Neal Perlmutter felt his team earned respect for its grit.
“I was really proud,” he said. “We took a big blow in the first quarter, and it could’ve gotten away from us, and we kept our cool. We shot it about as well as we shot it all year, it was nice to see our guys respond.”
CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs
Pacifica Christian Orange County 81, Mira Costa 74
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Pacifica Christian 22 – 17 – 20 – 22 — 81
Mira Costa 20 – 14 – 18 – 22 — 74
PCOC – Mallette 25, Erving 20, Sims 12, Bahadoor 7, Brown 7, Jiwani 7, Paschal 3.
3-pt. goals – Mallette 7, Erving 3, Jiwani 2, Paschal 1, Brown 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
MC – McCalla 21, Black 17, Cammock 11, Antrobius 9, Householter 9, Kick 5, Slusser 2.
3-pt. goals – Black 5, Kick 1, Antrobius 1, McCalla 1, Householter 1.
Fouled out – None
Technicals – None.
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