Pacifica Christian Orange County boys’ basketball takes league lead after big win over Fairmont Prep

Pacifica Christian's Alex Stewart, left, Salim Semaan, center, and Parker Strauss celebrates against Fairmont Prep.
Pacifica Christian Orange County’s Alex Stewart, left, Salim Semaan, center, and Parker Strauss celebrates after hitting a three-point shot at the end of the third quarter during a San Joaquin League game against Fairmont Prep on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Pacifica Christian Orange County standout senior point guard Parker Strauss said he switched up his pregame music routine Friday night.

The Tritons were about to host rival Fairmont Prep in a San Joaquin League showdown. Pacifica Christian coach Jeff Berokoff gave Strauss some jazz music to listen to.

Not the typical pump-up stuff, but Strauss gave the jazz chance. His verdict was positive, and he saw parallels to basketball.

“Everything flows nicely together,” Strauss said after helping the Tritons earn a big 63-45 victory. “And that’s how we got it done today.”

Pacifica Christian Orange County's Parker Strauss drives to the basket against Fairmont Prep during Friday's game.
Pacifica Christian Orange County’s Parker Strauss drives to the basket against Fairmont Prep’s Bowen Hammer during Friday’s game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

After convincingly winning a battle of Orange County top-five ranked teams, Pacifica Christian (19-8, 6-1 in league) took over first place in league by half a game over Fairmont Prep (19-6, 5-1) headed into the final week of the regular season.

Pacifica Christian closes out league with a road game against Capistrano Valley Christian on Wednesday, while Fairmont Prep plays at Orangewood Academy on Monday and also has a makeup road game at San Gabriel Academy on Thursday. If both teams win out, they’ll share the league title, which would be the Tritons’ first league crown since 2020.

“Ever since we came together in April, our goal was to win league and win CIF,” Strauss said. “We’re one step closer to that with that win.”

Pacifica Christian Orange County head coach Jeff Berokoff celebrates with his team after beating Fairmont Prep on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Strauss, a Northwestern commit, stuffed the stat sheet Friday night for the Tritons with 14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals. He also drew three charges.

The Tritons, who never trailed, set the tone in the opening minutes. They picked up four steals in the first four minutes of the game.

“All the credit to our coaching staff and my teammates,” Strauss said. “We just went out there and played our butts off … I think it was just our physicality. Our defense played hard, man. We played with so much more energy. We were feeding off the home crowd; they were great.”

Pacifica Christian Orange County's Alex Stewart goes up for a shot against Fairmont Prep's Maper Maker during Friday's game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Senior forward Salim Semaan poured in a game-high 18 points for Pacifica Christian, which is ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division 2A. That included a barrage of 13 points in the fourth quarter, three of the baskets coming on layups assisted by Strauss.

On the Tritons’ senior night, seniors Jeffry Bohlinger and Tanner Deal scored 11 and nine points, respectively. The other seniors honored in a pregame ceremony included Isaiah Paschal, Caeden Connell, George Hall, Noah Evans and Boden Ford.

“All nine seniors played in the first quarter against the [No. 3] team in Orange County,” said Berokoff, whose team also owns a win over top-ranked Orange Lutheran this year. “What a great team win for the guys and for our school … This group is a team, how they practice, how they treat each other, how they treat others. They deserve to win by how they play. We tried to take 15 charges, right? They dive on the floor, they do all the things necessary.”

Pacifica Christian Orange County's Parker Strauss battles for a loose ball against Fairmont Prep's Oliver Jones on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Senior guard Aaron Long led the Huskies with 17 points. Senior forward Bowen Hammer added 12 for Fairmont Prep.

But the Huskies couldn’t overcome the play of Strauss and the Tritons, which was as smooth as a tune by Miles Davis. The visitors were unable to sweep Pacifica Christian after earning a 59-55 win at home on Jan. 13.

“Definitely the transition defense [was better], and boxing out on the offensive boards,” Semaan said. “They only had two offensive boards, and they have a 7-footer [sophomore Maper Maker] on their team. That really helped us out a lot.”

The CIF playoffs begin on Feb. 7.

Pacifica Christian Orange County's EJ Spillman reacts after drawing a foul against Fairmont Prep's Maper Maker on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)


San Joaquin League

Pacifica Christian Orange County 63, Fairmont Prep 45


Fairmont Prep 10 – 10 – 8 – 17 45

Pacifica Christian 12 – 13 – 19 – 19 63

FP — Long 17, Hammer 12, Maker 8, Aldeguer 4, Jones 2, Steward 2.

3-pt. goals — Long 1, Hammer 1.

Fouled out — Aldeguer.

Technicals — None.

PC — Semaan 18, Strauss 14, Bohlinger 11, Deal 9, L. Stewart 6, A. Stewart 4, Spillman 1.

3-pt. goals — Semaan 2, Strauss 2, Deal 2, Bohlinger 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.


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