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Simi Valley Puts Rialto Down Under, 77-66

February 15, 1996|KARI COPE

Pero Vasiljevic had 28 points and 14 rebounds as Simi Valley defeated Rialto, 77-66, in a Southern Section Division I-AA wild-card game Wednesday night at Rialto.

The Pioneers (17-8) used a 2-3 zone defense to counter Rialto's athleticism and forced the Knights (12-13) to shoot from outside.

Vasiljevic, an exchange student from Australia, was also an intimidating presence defensively, blocking three shots and forcing the Knights to alter many others.

The Pioneers led by as many as 24 points, taking a 60-36 lead late in the third quarter on a basket by Vasiljevic.

Vasiljevic's dunk seconds later gave Simi Valley a 62-38 lead and punctuated a 14-4 run by the Pioneers.

"They were pretty small," said the 6-foot-9 Vasiljevic. "They double-teamed me so I just kicked it out or made a quick move."

The lead proved insurmountable, as the Knights could not get closer than 11 points for the remainder of the game.

Scott Blough added 20 points and Rod MacLean had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Pioneers.

"I don't think they really knew who I was," said Blough, who averages 17 points. "That kind of helped."

Dwain Gaines had 23 points for Rialto.

Simi Valley faces Long Beach Jordan, the top-seeded team in the division, Friday night at 7:30 at Jordan.

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