GLENDALE — The Burbank High boys' basketball team used high energy defense on one end and was paced by the long ball on the other to clinch fourth place in the Pacific League and a playoff berth, while eliminating Tuesday night's opponent, Hoover, from an automatic bid.
The Bulldogs made seven three-pointers and held the host Tornadoes without a field goal in the fourth quarter en route to the 60-41 victory — the team's largest road victory of the league season.
"We live and die by our defense," said first-year Bulldogs Coach Jerry DeLaurie, whose squad improved to 15-11 overall and 7-6 in the Pacific League. "Bar none, we are playing good 'D' and it's going to carry us."
Burbank gave up three points in the fourth — all at the line. Both teams struggled from the field in the final frame, starting the quarter a combined 0 for seven from the field.
Neither team scored until the 4:32 mark when Bulldogs senior guard Peter Wongsasitorn put in two of his seven points in the quarter and team-high 12 points.
Wongsasitorn scored on three consecutive possessions to give Burbank its first double-digit lead at 52-38, which would prove insurmountable for the Tornadoes, who came into the contest with Burbank having won two straight and three of their last four.
"We obviously didn't shoot the ball well," Tornadoes Coach Jack Van Patten said. "Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it doesn't. [Burbank] shot better than they normally do."
Hoover (12-13, 4-9) never led after taking a brief 3-2 advantage on Francis Roncal's three-pointer in the early stages. Roncal led all scorers with 17 points.
The two teams were knotted at 17 in a tightly contested second quarter in which the Bulldogs used a pair of three-point field goals to turn separate slim one-point margins into a four-point lead.
The solid shooting from behind the arc came into play again in the third quarter as the Tornadoes cut the Bulldogs' lead down to two at 38-36 only to see Burbank's Greg Salas connect on a three-pointer and keep Hoover at bay.
Salas' jumper would ultimately fuel a 7-2 run to end the third. The momentum would be sustained on both ends in the fourth for Burbank, which will host Burroughs on Thursday night.
"I'm amazed by it," DeLaurie said on the team's success in his first season. "I took the job in August to put a team together and build an identity. Now we're talking about the playoffs.
"It says something about the boys that they've bought in," he added.
Hoover will host rival Glendale on Thursday. Neither team will earn an automatic bid from the Pacific League, but records are thrown out when the Tornadoes and Nitros meet.
"It's a big game for everybody," Van Patten said. "Our kids are ready, their kids are ready. It's going to be fun."