PHS advances to a quarterfinal rematch against Harvard – Westlake
By Christian Romo
The Vikings pushed Burbank to overtime on the road, but couldn’t find enough offense in the extra period to advance to the quarterfinals.
In their final game of the 2017 season, Blair (25 – 8) fell to the Burbank Bulldogs (25 – 9), 73 – 70, in the second round of the CIF Division 4 state playoffs. Viking senior Jack Dakan (5) led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 6 of 7 from three-point range and 7 of 9 overall, but his second half surge fell short in his final game with Blair.
The Vikings had a chance to win on the final possession, but senior Jordan Hall’s (25) corner three clanked off the far side of the rim, adding four more minutes to the contest. Dakan began the overtime period with his sixth three-pointer, but the Vikings scored only one more point in the final three minutes.
“We played extremely unselfishly … we’ve got nothing to hang our heads about,” said Blair coach Alon Margalit. Burbank jumped out to a 14 – 4 lead in the middle of the first quarter, but aggressive defending and Dakan’s hot shooting kept the Vikings close throughout the entire game. “It’s tough, it’s heartbreaking…but that’s sports,” said Margalit.
Blair junior Dezmond Washington (23) posted another double-double, but the Viking’s leading scorer struggled in the post shooting 7 of 21 overall. Junior Gabriel Snow (24) also struggled to score, recording 13 points on 3 of 17 shooting. Dakan and senior Caleb Smith (30) picked up the slack, however, with Dakan driving the offense and Smith putting up 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists from the point.
The Vikings enjoyed unprecedented success in 2017. After reaching the CIF finals for the first time since 1983, Blair won its first state playoff game in school history and came within inches of the program’s biggest-ever victory. “We took the number one seed on their home court into overtime,” said Margalit. “I couldn’t be more proud. You’ve got to keep things in perspective.”
Margalit inherited a one-win team in 2014, and in just three seasons, he’s turned the Vikings into challengers for league and CIF titles. And with key players Washington, Snow, and Dallas Murray returning next season, Blair faces 2018 with something unfamiliar: championship expectations. “To go from no playoffs, to a second round exit, to a state win, that’s the expectation level: for it to continue to elevate,” said Margalit.
Mission Hills 57 – 64 Pasadena High
Another road playoff game was no obstacle for PHS, as the Bulldogs (26 – 6) beat Mission Hills, 64 – 57, Saturday night in San Marcos. The Grizzlies held a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but clutch baskets from sophomore Darius Mason (3) sent the Bulldogs to the Division II state quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
In the quarterfinal round, PHS will meet Harvard – Westlake, who they lost to nine days ago in the southern section Division 1A finals. The Bulldogs will travel to Studio City for the rematch, and fresh off a win against top-seeded Alemany, Harvard – Westlake hopes to make the quarterfinal round as easy as their CIF finals victory. The Wolverines are two wins away from a trip to Sacramento and a shot at their second-straight state title, while Pasadena looks for another road upset in their title pursuit.