Pasadena (19-6, 13-0) clinched its 10th consecutive Pacific League title earlier this week. But with one game left in the regular season, don’t expect the Bulldogs to hold back.
Pasadena hosts crosstown rival Muir (14-9, 7-6) today at 5 p.m. That’s reason enough for the Bulldogs to get fired up as they await the Division 1AA playoff pairings.
But there’s more on the line for Pasadena.
“We have to win this game because we need to keep our position in 1AA,” said coach Tim Tucker, whose Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in the division coaches poll. “We can’t afford to drop in that division. I’d like to go into the playoffs with a 14-game winning streak as opposed to coming off a loss.”
Tucker knows Muir will be clawing for a better league placement in hopes of keeping its No. 2 spot in the Division 5AA poll.
“Muir is fighting for third place and to keep their position in the division that they’re in,” Tucker said. “So they’re coming in here needing to win.
“When it comes to the Muir-PHS game, you never look at who’s playing for what, records and what it looks like on paper. It’s about who laces them up and is ready to play.”
Muir, in the first meeting, raced to a 16-point lead before falling, 54-51.
Tucker knows the feeling of losing an impact player, and such has been the case for Muir.
News about the dismissal of Deshawn Hayes (18.2 points, 7.5 rebounds) from Muir’s team because of repeated team violations is something Tucker can relate to. He, too, lost his best player in Todd Lewis Jr., but for a much different reason.
“I look at it two ways,” Tucker said. “One is you lose a kid like Deshawn and other guys step up. We lost our No. 1 player with a broken foot. He was an All-CIF guy who led his team to the CIF State semifinals, and now we have other guys step up.
“That’s what I see with Muir. Other guys will step up. Secondly, often times you have teams that focus more. I don’t see that much of a letdown because the rest will come together.”