State basketball: Pacifica Christian falls in Division II boys’ final

Pacifica Christian players try to regroup during the Division II state championship loss to San Joaquin Memorial.
Pacifica Christian players try to regroup during Division II state championship loss to San Joaquin Memorial.
(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

With their fate hanging in the balance and a one-point lead, Newport Beach Pacifica Christian High’s coaches stepped aside during one timeout and let emotional leader EJ Spillman vent.

They were hanging with Fresno’s San Joaquin Memorial tough through two quarters Saturday in the Division V boys’ basketball state championship game at Golden 1 Center. But even in the second quarter, it was clear the Panthers’ 6-foot-7 senior Mike Davis Jr. would be a confounding problem, with nobody on Pacifica’s roster carrying enough bulk to bang with him in the paint.

So Spillman, just a sophomore, lit into his Pacifica teammates.

“Y’all, let’s outrebound them!” Spillman shouted. “We can’t let No. 5 out-tough our whole team.”


But out-tough them he did, Davis helping Memorial pull away at the start of the fourth quarter with a tough put-back basket. Pacifica Christian couldn’t find an inch of room inside as Memorial went into a zone in the first half, daring the the Tritons to shoot, and their jumpers rang off the rim the rest of the way in a 58-47 loss.

Davis finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Panthers. Spillman had 11 for Pacifica Christian but shot three for 13. Northwestern commit Parker Strauss added 11 on three-for-11 shooting.

Strauss was emotional afterward, having returned during the playoffs after being sidelined because of an injury, diving repeatedly and leaving everything on the court trying to spark a comeback.

The loss brought an end to a special brotherhood on full display, with Pacifica Christian teammates linking arms throughout the media room.

“The most important guy in the room is who?” coach Jeff Berokoff asked.

“The guy next to you,” the Tritons responded, without a second of hesitation.

“That’s special, and that’s something I’m never going to forget. … I’m just really sorry we couldn’t get it done,” Berokoff said, voice wavering. “I wanted it so bad for them. I just love this group.”

Division V girls

Angels Camp Bret Harte 62, Huntington Beach Marina 39: With a population of less than 4,000, the city of Angels Camp is known for its jumping frog competition. Many turned out for the state championship game Saturday morning at Golden 1 Center to celebrate the town‘s most famous teenager: three-sport star Aariah Fox.


Fox helped deliver a state championship to the Bullfrogs (26-7), scoring 22 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, distributing four assists and getting five steals.

“That was great,” Fox said of the crowd support. “That was literally the whole town here.”

Fox had 230 kills during the volleyball season and showed her versatility and speed from track Saturday by running up and down the court like it was a workout. She said she hasn’t decided whether to pursue volleyball or basketball in college. And there’s always track season ahead.

Marina (21-16) received a strong performance from freshman guard Rylee Bradley, who had a game-high 23 points.

“I was a little bit nervous because I’ve never really played in an arena,” Bradley said. “But I feel I adjusted to the situation and played better in the second half.”