The Pacifica Christian Orange County High boys’ basketball team has a lot of new pieces this season, but a slow start definitely was not a problem for the Tritons on Tuesday night in their season opener.
Pacifica Christian outscored visiting Silverado St. Michael’s Prep 37-0 in the first quarter. Even not at full strength, the Tritons easily were on their way to a 93-43 victory.
“We talked on defense, which is one thing we’ve been working on a lot,” said Tritons 6-foot-7 junior forward Judah Brown, who scored many of his 17 points on a handful of dunks. “That was cool to finally see it in action.”
Brown made his debut for Pacifica Christian this season after he was declared ineligible last year. The Tritons’ other 6-7 transfer who was ineligible last season, senior forward Solomon Davis, did not dress for Tuesday’s game.
“He hurt his back about a month or so ago, and we’ve worked him pretty hard,” Pacifica Christian coach Jeff Berokoff said. “We thought today was a good day for him to sit out and prepare for Friday.”
The Tritons host Crean Lutheran in another nonleague game Friday at 6:30 p.m.
We were just all looking for each other. We played pretty unselfish ... We get out and run, so a lot of teams have to try to keep up with us
Freshman guard Riyaan Jiwani came out firing in his high school debut for Pacifica Christian. He poured in a game-high 32 points, including 10 three-pointers.
Berokoff said that Jiwani tied the school’s single-game record for three-pointers. He had a few chances in the closing minutes to get his 11th triple, but none of them went in.
“I was mad,” Jiwani said. “I was like, I’ve got to make those threes. I guess it wasn’t meant to be for the first day. It will happen, though. I’ve got four years.”
Individual exploits aside, the Tritons played well together. They scored the game’s first 40 points, until Brandon Oborny of St. Michael’s Prep made a baseline jumper with 6:09 remaining in the second quarter.
With Pacifica Christian up 40 points after three quarters, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
“We played well as a team,” Jiwani said. “We were just all looking for each other. We played pretty unselfish and it was really fun. We get out and run, so a lot of teams have to try to keep up with us. We’ve got lanky guys, shooters. We’re hard to stop.”
Brown said he has received 15 college offers from programs including Nevada, Western Kentucky and Pepperdine. The one who set him up for the dunks was typically sophomore point guard Houston Mallette, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
While he spent much of the second half on the bench with the big lead, a lot of that time Brown also spent giving advice to and cheering for junior guard Michael Salerno, who ended up making a jump-shot in the third quarter.
“We’re a family,” Brown said. “We’re a brotherhood, so we love cheering each other on.”
Senior forward Isaiah Seward had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Pacifica Christian, while junior guard Josh Sims had eight points and 11 rebounds. Seward got the starters fired up in the final minute of the first half, when he blocked a couple of St. Michael’s Prep shots.
Pacifica Christian lost its top player from last season when point guard Dominick Harris, a Gonzaga commit who is now a junior, transferred to Temecula Rancho Christian. But the Tritons appear formidable. They opened the season ranked No. 6 in Orange County.
“Heck, it’s only our third year of varsity basketball,” said Berokoff, who led Pacifica Christian to the CIF Southern Section Division 6 title game in 2017. “We’re really excited. We have to prove that [ranking], we have to beat some people this year, but it’s a really fun group. They play really well together, they high-five each other. They genuinely really love each other, and you can see it in how they play. They share the ball and they have fun. It’s a great group to coach.”
Pacifica Christian Orange County 93, St. Michael’s Prep 43
SCORE BY QUARTERS
St. Michael’s Prep 0 – 19 – 16 – 8 — 43
Pacifica Christian 37 – 18 – 20 – 18 — 93
SMP – Smith 14, Nguyen 12, Oborny 5, Sturkie 4, Garcia 3, Pearson 2, Osborne 2, Puccio 1.
3-pt. goals – Nguyen 2, Smith 1, Garcia 1.
Fouled out – Oborny.
Technicals – None.
PC – Jiwani 32, Brown 17, Mallette 14, Seward 10, Sims 8, Franklin 7, Bahadoor 3, Salerno 2.
3-pt. goals – Jiwani 10, Mallette 2, Franklin 1, Bahadoor 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.