Houston Mallette may be just a sophomore, but the Pacifica Christian Orange County boys’ basketball guard has no problem taking the big shot.
Twice in four games at the Corona del Mar Beach Bash tournament this week, Mallette made the game-winning shot. The latest victim was the host Sea Kings.
Mallette’s jumper from the right elbow with three seconds left lifted Pacifica Christian to a 57-55 win over CdM in the tournament third-place game Saturday night at Corona del Mar High.
On Tuesday, Mallette hit the game-winner as Pacifica Christian (8-3), ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 4AA, opened the tournament with a 58-57 win over Eaglecrest of Centennial, Colo.
“I keep drawing up stuff for him, and he keeps responding,” Pacifica Christian coach Jeff Berokoff said. “That seems to be a trend, and it’s a good one right now. I trust him with the ball. He makes good decisions at the end of games. He likes the big shot, and I love that about him.”
Senior forward Solomon Davis scored a game-high 23 points Saturday and earned all-tournament team honors for Pacifica Christian. Junior forward John Humphreys earned all-tournament team honors for CdM (4-3).
The game between the two Newport Beach schools was back and forth. Pacifica Christian led by eight points midway through the third quarter after a corner three-pointer by Davis, but CdM, led by senior center Jack Garza and his 18 points, battled back. Jack Stone’s three-pointer with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter gave the Sea Kings a 49-47 lead, their first of the second half.
“Our guys didn’t give up,” CdM coach Ryan Schachter said. “They showed a lot of grit, a lot of fight. [The Tritons] have a lot of talent. That’s a good team. They got eight points on last-second shots … so they made big shots, but our guys battled.”
Davis made a three-pointer with a second left in the first quarter, and Mallette made a triple in the final seconds of the first half. The last shot at the end of the fourth quarter, the game-winner, again belonged to Mallette after Stone made both ends of a one-and-one to tie the score at 55-55 with 11 seconds remaining in the quarter.
After Mallette made his jumper, Pacifica Christian’s Judah Brown leaped to intercept the inbound pass under the CdM basket, and the Tritons were able to run the clock out.
“I like stepping up in big moments,” said Mallette of his game-winner, which came after he went around a high screen from Davis. “That’s a leadership role I have. We have a lot of leaders on this team, and I feel like I can make my way like that. I told coach in the huddle, ‘I got this.’ He drew up a high screen, and I was supposed to come up and see what I had … As soon as [Davis] set the screen, I knew where I was going to go. I was going to go to that elbow and shoot it.”
Berokoff said he was proud of the way the Tritons bounced back after Friday’s 51-48 CdM Beach Bash semifinal loss to Trabuco Hills, a game that he called his team’s worst in five months.
“It was good that they showed some resiliency tonight, showed their true character,” Berokoff said. “They really responded.”
Pacifica Christian opens San Joaquin League play at home against Fairmont Prep on Friday night, while CdM plays in the Gary Raya SoCal Elite tournament next week. The Sea Kings open the tournament at El Dorado on Monday at 7 p.m.
CdM Beach Bash
Pacifica Christian Orange County 57, Corona del Mar 55
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Pacifica Christian 12 – 19 – 13 – 13 — 57
Corona del Mar 13 – 13 – 15 – 14 — 55
PC – Davis 23, Mallette 8, Bahadoor 8, Brown 6, Sims 6, Jiwani 6.
3-pt. goals – Davis 4, Mallette 2, Jiwani 2.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
CdM – J. Garza 18, Stone 11, Hamilton 9, Humphreys 8, A. Garza 7, Schimmelphennig 2.
3-pt. goals – J. Garza 3, Stone 2, Hamilton 1, A. Garza 1.
Fouled out – None.