Pacific Hills boys run away with 4A crown

ANAHEIM -- Earning a share of the Alpha League title wasn't fulfilling enough for the Pacific Hills boys' basketball team. A co-championship just doesn't have the same ring to it.

The Bruins got one that's all their own Thursday afternoon, beating Cantwell-Sacred Heart, 65-42, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4A championship game at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Guard Brandon Taylor scored 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and added seven assists.

"Now we have to focus on state," Taylor said.

Taylor had 11 points in the first quarter, sophomore wing Namon Wright had 10 of his 14 in the second. The Bruins shot 57 percent for the game, outscoring Cantwell in every quarter.

"I thought we came out pretty strong," Pacific Hills coach Ivan Barahona said. "One of the things we wanted to do was pressure them. ... We switched defenses a lot in the second half."

Top-seeded Pacific Hills (28-4) held a 33-28 halftime but put together a 19-7 run to pull away. The Bruins were superb in executing Plan A: Denying Cantwell-Sacred Heart star junior Jose Estrada the ball. Estrada, a transfer from Mexico, had a 50-point game earlier in the playoffs and averaged 32 during the regular season.

"Estrada didn't have lanes to attack," Barahona said.

Facing constant double- and triple-teams, Estrada settled for only 19 points -- 15 coming in the first half. Joe Covarrubias added nine points for the Cardinals (28-5), but no other player had more than four.

After a forgettable 2-25 season last year, Cantwell-Sacred Heart made its first appearance in a section final and, based on the the amount of noise coming from its contingent, the entire city of Montebello showed support. Students chanted, "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!).

"We knew we were in for a tough game," Cantwell-Sacred Heart first-year coach George Zedan said. "I think their athleticism and length really bothered us."

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.