PASADENA — When the offense is flowing, especially from long range, everything else seems to come easier.
The St. Francis High basketball team got off to a hot shooting start on Friday night and rode the momentum to a dominating all-around 64-30 win over Maranatha in the pool-play round of the Maranatha Tournament
"We shot well and they didn't shoot well," St. Francis co-Coach Ray O'Brien said. "That's probably the best defensive intensity we've had in long time. I'd hate to believe it was only because we were hitting threes that we're playing defense, but that happens a lot of times."
The Golden Knights' charge was led by senior guard Emerson Castaneda, who scored a game-high 27 points and sank seven of his nine three-point attempts. On the game, St. Francis shot 54% from the field and a scalding 60% from the field out of the gate to take a double-digit lead in the first eight minutes of the first half.
"When we have the intensity up we play pretty good," said Castaneda, who scored 16 points in the first half on six of eight shooting with four three-pointers. "They were just passing to me and I was in rhythm, but I couldn't do it without my teammates."
St. Francis, which got nine points from Zack Gardea and eight points and 10 rebounds from Sevan Zarifian, reeled off a 17-0 run early in the first half, seeing its 8-6 lead mushroom into a 25-6 advantage by the 10:15 mark of the first half.
Castaneda buried another three to put the Golden Knights up by 22 with 3:00 left in the first half and they took a 38-14 lead into halftime.
"We never let up," Castaneda said. "We played the game like we were losing it."
The second half saw St. Francis get off to another hot start, putting a 7-2 run on the Minutemen, who didn't convert a field goal until the 7:20 mark of the 12-minute third period.
By that point, St. Francis led, 45-17.
Castaneda added a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer for good measure, putting the Golden Knights up, 57-26.
"We can't control if we hit threes or not," said O'Brien, whose team will play Crescenta Valley in its final pool-play contest at 11 a.m. today. "Tonight we had an overflow of them, but what I liked was the defensive intensity and the boards and the helping on defense. That's really what's gonna keep you in the game when you're not shooting well."