The city of Pasadena will be well represented when Muir High School and Pasadena Poly hit the hardwood on the road tonight in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section girls basketball playoffs. Muir (20-7) will take on Barstow (23-2) in the Division 3A playoffs at 6 tonight at Barstow College while Pasadena Poly (22-3) takes on Montclair Prep (21-6) in the Division 5A tournament at 7 tonight at St. Genevieve High in Panorama City.
Muir vs. Barstow at Barstow College, 6 p.m. — The Mustangs are hoping to get over their semifinal hump. They have not gotten past the semifinals since reaching the finals in a loss to Bishop Amat six years ago. Muir squandered a 6-point lead with two minutes left before losing to Inglewood in the semifinals last year. Three years ago, the Mustangs lost to Mira Costa in the semifinals and was invited to participate in the CIF State playoffs, where they lost in the Southern California Regional championship. Muir led by as many as 19 midway through the third quarter when it suddenly saw it shrink to just four. Still, it wasn’t of great concern for Mustangs coach Gary Johnson. “I was pleased with my girls for holding on to the lead and building it back up,” he said. “They showed a lot of poise.” Muir has come along way since enduring serious disorganization during the regular season, to the point where Johnson had to move down some players to the junior varsity level in an effort to execute the playbook. To be fair, the Mustangs are carrying on for the first time since losing four-year letterman standouts Eliza Pierre (Cal) and Brittany Henderson (Kentucky). The turning point came when sophomore point guard Tahniya Sweatt went down with an ankle injury at the start of Pacific League play, prompting Johnson to move Taylor Gomez from shooting guard to the point. Gomez’s efficiency and steady hand paid dividends, and it allowed the Mustangs to have a solid point guard when Sweatt comes off the bench. Muir’s proven it can shut down its opponents best shooters, and it’ll face another tall task in Barstow’s Nisha Barrett, a 6-foot-1 senior forward having a monstrous season. She’s averaging 17.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.6 steals and 3.2 blocks per game. “The last three games,” Johnson said, “we’ve been playing girls that are huge and Daysha Thomas, Jermani Daniels and Christian Connor have been doing a really good job.”
Pasadena Poly vs. Montclair Prep at St. Genevieve High, 7 p.m. — Pasadena Poly is making its first semifinals appearance since 2000 and has not hoisted a CIF championship banner since 1992. The Panthers were ousted in the quarterfinals last year by Santa Clara, who went on to lose to Bell-Jeff in the finals. If there ever was a season in which Pasadena Poly had a chance to make its best run it certainly has to be this season. The Panthers’ boast one of the area’s more premiere shooters in sophomore guard Michelle Miller. She averages a ridiculous 30.9 points and 12.8 rebounds. She dropped 38 points against Desert in a 55-45 quarterfinal win. She scored a career-high 46 points early in the season. It makes sense to double team and even triple team Miller, but somehow, some way she seems to get hers. “She’s always on,” said Pasadena Poly coach Kim Weber, in her fourth season at the helm. “She’s had (the double-teaming) all season. It’s not something that’s new to her or the rest of us. In some ways if you don’t double team her I’m surely stunned.” Miiler’s supporting class — known as the “Bacon Bits” — includes Julia Brown, a senior guard averaging 10.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Miller explained earlier this week that a teammate overheard a rival coach in the locker room saying all Pasadena Poly has “is a star, the salad, and everybody else is just the bacon bits.” The Panthers will need an all-around effort against a Montclair Prep team that features three players who score in double figures. Chantel Dooley (16.5 points), Kimberly Scamman (12.3 points), Alex Taylor (10.3) and Lindsay Anderson (9.1 points) do all the scoring for the Mounties. Dooley is the more dangerous of the foursome, averaging 9.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals. “They’re a good team,” Weber said. “They don’t have a lot of size and neither do we, but they have more shooters.” But nobody who averages 30.