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SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Gimmick Defense Turns Trick for Pacifica : Division III-A boys: Mariners use 'triangle and two' to shut down Veal and San Dimas, 63-49.


ANAHEIM — Before the game, Pacifica Coach Bob Becker said he wouldn't use a gimmick defense to stop San Dimas star Jeremy Veal. But when Veal carved up his man-to-man pressure defense for 15 points in 18 minutes, Becker saw the Southern Section title slipping away.

So what did he do? What else--go to a gimmick defense.

Becker called it a 'triangle and two." Veal wasn't sure what it was, he simply knew it had worked.

Pacifica (27-1) held Veal to four points the rest of the way and went on to a 63-49 victory Saturday in the Southern Section Division III-A boys' final at Anaheim Arena.

"Once he hit that three-pointer from the top of the key, we decided we were going to double him," Becker said. "I didn't want that guy to have a heyday. We weren't going to give him anything open."

During the first half, Veal often found himself or his teammates open. If he wasn't slashing through the lane for a layup, he was slashing and dishing to center Jamar Bailey (15 points, 11 rebounds).

Early in the second half, Veal took his game outside and made a three-pointer and an 18-footer. But Becker called a timeout and put an end to Veal's field day.

Veal, who committed eight turnovers, said he was baffled.

"I thought they were in a zone, but then I didn't know what they were in," he said. "All I know is I wasn't open anymore."

Pacifica, meanwhile, scored 49 after a sluggish 14-point quarter. The Mariners never did get their three-point shooting game going--they made only five of 20--but they did get their vaunted press going.

Pacifica's press resembled Swiss cheese in the first half. It created few turnovers and several layups for San Dimas (24-5). But the constant pressure began to take a toll in the third quarter on a San Dimas team that used only six players.

Said Bailey, who scored eight of his points in the first quarter: "We really didn't run our offense in the second half and we rushed our shots underneath."

First-year Coach Becker said he knew when San Dimas' six were spent.

"With 5:49 left in the third quarter, their guy couldn't get the ball inbounds," he said. "The referee got to four and they called timeout. I saw them walk to their bench and our guys ran to our bench. I knew right then that we were only going to get stronger."

Pacifica's strongest all day was 6-foot-8 forward Jon Surface, who scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed five rebounds. Surface appeared to be the only Mariner who wasn't bothered by the unfamiliar shooting background, the crowd or the pressure.

"Jon overcame the big-game inexperience," Becker said. "I don't know if he even noticed the people in the stands."

As his teammates made two for 15 from three-point range, Surface made three of five.

Surface didn't do it all though. Forward Ramon Alliman missed all three of his three-point attempts, but he scored 11 points, had five rebounds and keyed Pacifica's 16-5 run in the third quarter that turned a five-point deficit into a 43-37 lead. The Mariners scored the fourth quarter's first six points and were never threatened again.

Forward Chris Vlasic, Pacifica's leading three-point shooter, didn't have his radar working either as he fired three air balls from three-point range. But Vlasic still scored 19 points, had five rebounds and two steals.

The Mariners' section title is their first in boys' basketball. Previously, Becker had coached Rancho Alamitos' girls' basketball team.

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