The Cubs took on Pasadena High School in their second game of playoff competition. The team was fresh off a comfortable victory over Serra High School in the previous round and looked to avenge the blowout that the team received at the hands of Pasadena in last year’s playoffs. This year the game took place in Leavey Gymnasium, Loyola’s home floor. The Cubs have an overall record of 22-6 heading into the matchup, identical to Pasadena’s own 22-6.
Guard- 6’1” Senior Neil Owens
Guard- 6’1”Senior Mason Butler
Guard- 6’5” Senior CJ Jones
Forward- 6’4” Senior Anthony Lucenti
Center- 6’9” Senior James Keefe
The Cubs start the game off poorly by turning the ball over straight away after winning the tip. Pasadena is able to produce an open three but miss badly off the backboard. Neil attempts to put the first points of the game on the board but the ball goes in and out on a corner three. This trend continues with a missed three coming from both sides before Pasadena hits a layup to go up. An airballed three from the Cubs gives the ball back to the Bulldogs who hit a fadeaway to go up by four. The Cubs finally put one in the hoop off a pick and roll that ends with a Lucenti basket. Keefe makes a monster block on defense to allow CJ to get down the court for an equalizing layup. The Bulldogs are bailed out on a poor possession with a foul but manage miss both free throws to keep the score even. CJ hits a three from the corner right after the free throws to give the Cubs their first lead of the game. The Bulldogs look shaken as a player steps on the out of bounds line. Another bad Pasadena turnover means that the Cubs get Keefe another layup. The run is scintillating as the Cubs force a 24 second violation directly preceding a CJ triple again. The Bulldog problems seem unfixable as they travel and have their fourth consecutive turnover before their head coach decides he’s seen enough and calls a timeout. The break allows Colby to get in the game and the team to extend the run to 13 with a free throw conversion from Keefe. Another stellar defensive possession from the Cubs means that the Bulldogs throw up another brick and the Cubs win Keefe more free throws. Keefe misses both but allows Jared to come into the game. Pasadena finally snaps the streak though their guard hits only one of two free throws. The Cubs get the ball back and Neil pulls up for a deep three that sees nothing but the bottom of the net.
The pace of the game is frenetic, an environment in which the Cubs thrive. The Bulldogs clearly can’t handle how quickly the Cubs get out in transition and put points on the board. The Cubs must keep up the defensive performance, allowing four points in the quarter.
Grant gets subbed into the game to start the second quarter. The Cubs start the quarter off poorly as they give up a quick 7-0 run to the away team. The Bulldogs hit a quick three, followed by two layups, to make the run. The lead is just four after the momentum swing. The Cubs are clearly confused by the uncommon zone that the Bulldogs have thrown at them. The Cubs are able to come out of their funk, though, when they steal the ball and get Keefe a layup. The Cubs give up another bucket but respond immediately with a short baseline jumper for Keefe. The Cubs need to figure out how to deal with the 1-2-2 zone that the Bulldogs have clearly surprised them with. They turn the ball over again and only make their condition worse when they give up second chance points again. The Cubs turn the ball over but are able to goad the Bulldogs into a charging foul to regain possession. On the next possession, a sweet pass from Lucenti gives the ball to Colby who wins free throws. Colby hits both free throws and the lead is back up to 6 for the home side. On defense, the Cubs can’t seem to stop themselves from giving up second chance points as Pasadena grabs two more. The Cubs throw the ball away again and need to get lucky with a jump ball before they can reclaim possession. The Bulldogs switch back to a man defense, something that momentarily confuses the Cubs before Lucenti drives for an and one layup. The Cubs move into a zone of their own and are forced into a bad shot they miss. The Cubs fly up the court and find Keefe who hits one of two earned free throws. The Cubs give up a layup but find Colby for a corner three that puts the team up by 8. The team gets Pasadena to shoot and miss early before Mason drives and draws a foul with one second left in the half. Mason hits both free throws and the first half draws to a conclusion.
The Bulldogs employed a 1-2-2 zone to perfection that was able to completely stop the Cubs run. Luckily, the Cubs eventually fought back from the adversary, increasing their lead to ten after it was cut to just four. The team needs to make sure that they are able to push the ball and take care to limit turnovers and second-chance opportunities. The Cubs did well to force bad shots from the Bulldogs, making sure that the opposition was forced into tough positions before throwing up shots; however, the problems came when they continued to give up offensive rebounds. The stats leaders at the half are James Keefe (14 points) and CJ Jones (8 points).
The second half commences with the same five that started the game for the Cubs. The Bulldogs are able to produce a three to open the half, but the Cubs slice apart the Pasadena zone for a three of their own, this one form Neil. The Cubs give up a layup on a drive to the hoop but redeem themselves when they force an offensive foul. The Cubs produce a good look at the hoop but miss and allow the Bulldogs to come down and win a foul. Luckily, the Bulldog misses both free throws and the Pasadena coach gets called for a technical. Neil hits both free throws and the Cubs get the ball back before they commit an offensive foul. The Bulldogs come down on the next possession and take a terrible layup shortly before Lucenti fools two defenders with a pump fake preceding a layup. The play means that the Pasadena coach needs a timeout to help turn the tide of the game. The Cubs steal the ball off the timeout and Keefe goes the length of the floor for a layup that puts the lead at fourteen. Both sides miss threes before a Bulldog defender gets Keefe to foul, his third of the game. The Cubs are faced with another 1-2-2 but dismantle it with ease for a Neil three. The Cubs own 2-3, though, works well and the Bulldogs miss a three. Both teams go several possessions without a basket before Pasadena scores a layup to end the drought. A contested step back three falls for the Bulldogs, and, all of the sudden, Pasadena has gone on a 5-0 run that forces Coach Adams into a timeout. One minute remains in the quarter when the Cubs return. Colby pump fakes and hits an and one layup that puts the team up by 12 to end the quarter.
Neither team played particularly well in the quarter, trading baskets for the most part. The pace of the game slowed significantly, something good for Loyola who holds the lead.
The quarter commences with a wide open layup for Colby before CJ comes up with a big block on defense that gets Colby more free throws on the other end. Colby hits both of his free throws and the Cubs lead by 16 as they switch into a 2-2-1 press that gives up a quick layup. The Cubs won’t go away as a double pump layup from Keefe finds its way in. The Cubs come up with a steal that lets Colby collect two more off of a layup. The Bulldogs finally respond when they get a tough fadeaway three to connect, cutting the lead to 15. Pasadena comes out in a 1-2-2 full court press that ends with an open but missed look for the Cubs. Pasadena collects a quick two off an easy layup and the Cubs miss a good looking three to give the Bulldogs the ball back. Pasadena hits a transition jumper and the lead for the Cubs is just 9 with 5 minutes to play. The Cubs are looking like they are beginning to start cruise control before Coach Adams calls timeout. The Cubs turn the ball over right after the timeout but force Pasadena to miss their shot. The Cubs get a wide open three ball but are out of rhythm with their miss. On the other end of the floor, the Cubs get called for a foul on a three pointer. The shooter hits 2 of 3 and the lead is 9 before the Cubs airball another three point attempt. The Cubs give up three consecutive rebounds and Keefe collects his fourth with 3 minutes left to play. The Cubs turn the ball over and the lead is seven after a layup. The Bulldogs hit a three and the lead is cut to four as 1:41 left in the match. Coach Adams calls a timeout to help jumpstart the stalling Cub team. CJ hits a layup right out of the timeout but the Cubs knock down a three to make it a single possession contest. The three-point make is followed by a timeout from the Pasadena head coach. The Cubs come out of the timeout facing a 1-2-2 press that morphs into a 2-3 after the half court. The team turns the ball over but just manages to keep the ball out of the hoop before Lucenti barely hauls in the rebound. He gets fouled immediately and is forced to call a timeout after having difficulty inbounding the ball. Pasadena are forced into fouls as only 26 seconds remain. After Pasadena uses up all of their fouls to give, 23 seconds are left and Neil is at the line. Pasadena uses its final timeout in an attempt to ice Neil, but Neil knocks down both free throws to make it a 5 point contest with 20 seconds left. The Bulldogs turn the ball over on their possession and foul Mason when the Cubs regain the ball. Mason hits two and the Cubs are up by 7 with 10 seconds remaining. Pasadena dunks the ball but time expires and the Cubs move on.
The Cubs move on to play on Thursday for the playoff matchup against Windward whom they beat earlier in the season to win the John Bosco Tournament. The win was gutsy and at times seemed like the team may let the lead slip, but the team muscled out the win. The team played phenomenal in stretches but had lapses that let Pasadena hang around and have a chance at the end. If the team wants to continue winning, they must play a complete game to earn more wins.