BURBANK — For the second time this season, the Burbank High boys' basketball team struggled to slow down Ajon Efferson.
The 6-foot-1 Pasadena senior point guard scored 26 points and dished out five assists, as Burbank fell at home to Pasadena in a Pacific League showdown on Tuesday evening, 60-41. Efferson tallied 19 points and six assists in a similar defeat of Burbank on Jan. 7.
"He's probably the best player in the league," said Burbank Coach Jerry DeLaurie, whose team fell to 9-11 and 3-4 in league. "He's very smooth. He keeps his teammates involved. And can score when he wants to."
Efferson and others scored plenty early, as Pasadena (12-8, 7-1) pushed ahead at the onset, rattling off a 17-2 run to start the game. By the end of the first quarter, it led, 21-6, with a left-handed fast break dunk from sophomore forward Tyrek Adams in the waning moments serving as an exclamation point.
To go along with Efferson's big night, the 6-foot-5 Adams added 13 points, most coming on flurry of emphatic dunks.
"We just didn't handle their pressure well at all," DeLaurie said. "We made some bad passes and they converted. It's a testament to them playing good defense."
Pasadena forced several turnovers using a full-court and mid-court press, as Burbank failed to record a point until more than halfway into the opening period.
"Our minds weren't in it," Burbank senior forward Adam Pasco said. "We had to be down to realize 'Hey, we got to start playing.' We didn't do that from the tip. We just weren't ready for the game. That's it."
Pasco was the only Burbank player to finish in double-figures, scoring 14 points. He finished with eight in the first half to give his team a chance at a comeback, cutting to 28-18 by halftime.
"Our guys played a lot harder," DeLaurie said. "We matched their intensity. I think at halftime down 10, they were disappointed. They had a big lead on us and we got momentum changed there."
But Pasadena stormed out of the gate in the second half, as Efferson tossed a backdoor alley-oop to Adams for a dunk on its first possession, setting a similar tone from the onset, and its lead ballooned to 16 points at the end of the first quarter.
Burbank continued to have struggles on offense, missing a variety of layups and other contested shots. The 41 points scored were the second-lowest for the Bulldogs in a game this season.
The next closest scorer to Pasco was senior forward Anthony Kardosh, who finished with eight.
The loss to Pasadena also marked Burbank's second straight defeat, coming on the heels of Friday's 68-48 defeat at the hands of crosstown rival Burroughs.
"We're just tired of losing, honestly," Pasco said. "We're losing so much that – we're not getting used to it but we do need to start winning games to start that feeling of being happy playing basketball. We need to play better as a team and get it done."
Burbank resumes play on Friday, hosting Arcadia at 7 p.m.
"I'll tell you what," DeLaurie added, "we're looking to get better. I've got some great kids. They have great character, and we're going to rebound from this."