By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
PASADENA – What will undoubtedly go down as one of, if not the most thrilling, Pasadena-Muir boys basketball games in recent history will also leave coaches scratching their heads.
Pasadena recovered from a first-half shellacking to storm back from a 16-point deficit and escape with a 54-51 victory over rival Muir in front of a boisterous crowd Friday night.
Muir (10-7, 3-4) closed to within 50-48 after Tevin Polk converted two free throws with a minute left.
Pasadena (13-6, 7-0) responded with a Blake Hamilton fade-away jumper that went in with a second left on the shot clock.
Polk drew a foul and converted two more free throws to make it 52-50 with 13 seconds left before Pasadena’s Carl Robinson, checking in for the first time in the game, was intentionally fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, and a scuffle ensued under the basket before Deshawn Hayes was fouled after coming up with the ball and was sent to the line with six seconds left. His first free throw attempt bounced off the back of the rim. He made the second to make it 52-51.
Pasadena’s Chris Hanayan, who finished with five points, was fouled and made both free throws with two seconds left to seal the victory. Muir’s last-second attempt missed everything.
Pasadena did itself no favors in the first half as Muir opened the second quarter with a 16-0 run. The Bulldogs committed seven consecutive turnovers in that stretch, allowing Muir to take a 29-13 lead with 3:47 left, much to the chagrin of Pasadena coach Tim Tucker, who called a timeout to settle his players.
CLICK ON THREAD TO CONTINUE READING STORY
On the next play, Nick Holden came up with a block, fed the ball to a running Todd Lewis Jr. who laid down a monstrous, one-handed dunk to give the Bulldogs’ their first basket with 3:21 left and the momentum they needed.
“We needed an emotional play,” Tucker said. “(Lewis) needed something to get going, and it came at the right time.”
Pasadena outscored Muir 15-5 in the third quarter, and this time it was the Mustangs who were prone to turnovers. It didn’t help that Hayes picked up his fourth foul with 4:53 to go in the quarter. The Bulldogs took a 35-34 lead into the fourth quarter after a Lewis layup and Hanayan 3-pointer.
“Coach Tuck’s press was a deciding factor once again,” Muir coach Gamal Smalley said.
Lewis finished with 13 points, four steals and three assists. Hamilton had 12 points and Austin Daniels dazzled the crowd with 10 creative points.
Hayes had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tucker’s plan was to limit his explosiveness.
“He’s one of the best players in the Valley,” Tucker said. “You have to deny him the ball. We try not to give him any big plays. He’s a high flyer.”
Nelson scored 12 points and Polk finished with 10.
Tucker easily pinpointed Pasadena’s downfall in the first quarter.
“We missed 10 point-blank layups and we were 1-for-6 from the free-throw line,” he said. “It wasn’t anything they really did. It was more what we weren’t doing.
“What I like about this team is they don’t panic, and we haven’t panicked in the last four weeks.”
The learning experience continues for the Mustangs (12-6, 5-2), who withstood the Bulldogs’ (11-7, 4-3) frantic effort.
Freshman Emoni Jackson and sophomore standout Jordan Jackson scored 11 points apiece and fellow junior Tahniya Sweatt had 10 to lead Muir.
The Mustangs raced to a 12-point lead in the first quarter, but had problem extending it.
The turning point came in the fourth quarter when Ahsia Owens intercepted a pass on Pasadena’s end. She lobbed a pass across the court to Sweatt, who made the layup and converted the free throw for a three-point play that gave the Mustangs a 43-33 lead with 4:16 left.