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Pacifica Wakes Up, Advances : Division III: Vlasic fuels his team to a 70-55 victory over Servite.

March 09, 1994|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH — With the euphoria of Saturday's Southern Section title fresh in his mind, Pacifica Coach Bob Becker acknowledged he had a hard time getting up for Tuesday night's Southern California Division III Regional opener.

Fortunately for Pacifica, Chris Vlasic didn't have the same problem. He jump-started the Mariners by scoring 16 first-half points as his team took a 13-point halftime lead. Pacifica held on from there and defeated Servite, 70-55, Tuesday night at Long Beach City College before about 3,000 spectators.

Top-seeded Pacifica (28-1) will play host to fifth-seeded San Diego St. Augustine (25-5) Thursday night, probably at an alternate site. St. Augustine defeated Shafter, 46-43.

Vlasic scored only four points in the first quarter, but he caught fire in the second quarter as he scored eight consecutive points on an eight-foot baseline jumper and consecutive three-pointers. Vlasic's spurt lengthened Pacifica's lead from 17-16 to 25-16.

"It was one of those nights where my teammates were getting me the ball," Vlasic said. "It was falling for me and I was taking the shots."

Said Becker: "Vlasic was really on (Tuesday). Unfortunately for Chris, he plays for me. I sat him for a long time in the second half because I wanted him fresh when they made their run."

After falling behind by 19 early in the third quarter, Servite (20-10) managed to trim the lead to 49-37 after three quarters.

"They have a lot of pride," Vlasic said. "We knew they weren't going to die. This is the state playoffs."

But each time Servite made a run, Pacifica countered with a fast-break basket.

Surface's dunked after Servite had closed to 52-43. Then, minutes later Eric Maurer's bucket off a nifty feed from Surface gave Pacifica a 59-45 lead with 5:28 left.

When Servite pressed Pacifica during the last five minutes, Becker reinserted Vlasic to handle the ball and shoot free throws. Servite closed to 59-51 with 2:40 left, Ryan Teague hit two free throws and Surface hit one of two to extend the lead to 11 points.

Servite never got closer than nine points after that.

Afterward, Becker thanked his players for motivating him.

"This was tougher for me than it was for the kids," he said. "Me and my assistants felt really drained from Saturday. (Tuesday), it was the kids who had to light a fire under me."

Vlasic wasn't the only Mariner lighting fires. Surface scored 20, including 11 in the second half and Ramon Alliman came off the bench to score 10 points. Miller finished with seven points and four rebounds and Ryan Teague added six points and two rebounds.

Mark Seaton led Servite with 16 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out. Kieran Betts added 13 and David Downs had 11 points and four rebounds.

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