Muir A.D. Robert Galvan temporarily relieved of duties.

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BREAKING NEWS: Gamal Smalley placed on administrative leave (Pasadena Star-News)

FULL STORY: Muir forfeits 20 games, will miss playoffs (Pasadena Star-News)

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

Muir High School’s Robert Galvan has temporarily been relieved of his duties as athletic director pending an investigation into what led the boys basketball team to forfeit 20 games and miss the playoffs, district officials said Wednesday.

Pasadena Unified School District spokesman Adam Wolfson said the district will not issue a statement regarding Galvan. Charles Park, an assistant principal in charge of activities, will be the acting athletic director, Wolfson said.

“The hope is that once the investigation is completed into the forfeiting of the Muir basketball games, the district will issue a statement, barring litigation,” Wolfson said.

Muir was forced to forfeit the games because it failed to prove a valid change of address for a key player, thus eliminating the Mustangs from the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.

Galvan’s reassignment comes a week after boys basketball coach Gamal Smalley was placed on administrative leave and instructed not to have any contact with players and team parents.

PUSD hired an independent investigator to look into the issues, and Smalley is expected to speak with an investigator later this week.

At the heart of the issue was whether Muir had evidence to prove that Andre Frazier, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, had a valid change of address upon his transfer last year from Fairfax. He initially went to Bellarmine Jefferson, transferred to University High School in Los Angelesand then to Fairfax before coming to Muir. He has since transferred back to Fairfax.
Galvan was in his first season as athletic director, and was the school’s third athletic director in four years. He will continue as a physical-education teacher and baseball coach.

Galvan did not return a message seeking comment.

The investigation is expected to be completed in the next two weeks, Wolfson said.

In addition to the forfeits, Muir missed its chance at an at-large berth after its application was submitted past the deadline set by the CIF-Southern Section. Paperwork was due no later than 11 p.m. on a Friday, but it wasn’t faxed until the next evening.

Muir made three tournament championship appearances, was ranked in the Top 50 in the state and was 24-2 at season’s end, poised to continue its dream season with a strong playoff push in the so-called “Super Division” in which the Mustangs were seeded fifth.

Muir was the only public school in the division’s final Top 10 poll, and it was expected to prove its worth against perennial powerhouses like La Verne Lutheran and L.A. Price, both private schools.

Principal Sheryl Orange has not made a public comment about the forfeits, and her only statement came in a release issued through the district after Muir was ruled ineligible for the playoffs.

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Boys Basketball: Blake Hamilton’s game analyzed.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

The thorough analysis couldn’t have come at a better time for Pasadena High School’s Blake Hamilton.

The senior guard currently is weighing his options on where he’ll play college basketball. Schools have been looking at him closely, including Sacramento State, University of Pacific, Hawaii and Long Beach State, among others.

The 6-foot-4 Hamilton had one of his best games of the season with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the Bulldogs’ 81-67 semifinals win over Beverly Hills last week to clinch a spot in this weekend’s Division 3AAA title game against Arroyo Grande.

Hamilton knew that college coaches were there evaluating him, but what he didn’t know was that he was playing in the presence of a former NBA scout.

Clarence Gaines Jr., a former scout with the Chicago Bulls, attended the game with his young son and said he was asked by a friend to watch the game and keep a close eye on Hamilton.

Gaines wrote a nearly-600 word analysis on Hamilton and posted it on TwitLonger:

“Long wing span & vertical extension – average size hands,” starts Gaines. “Speed, quickness & acceleration. Very coordinated. Explosive – good jumping ability with a step. Light on his feet, quiet runner, lowers stress on the joints.”

Pasadena coach Tim Tucker was made aware of the piece and was thrilled about it.

“I thought he was pretty spot on,” Tucker said. “I think if Blake was a junior he’d be a high Division 1 player because he’d have another year to mature.”

Tucker added that Hamilton would benefit from a year at a prep school.

“He’ll be Division I player one way or another,” he said.

Hamilton received news of the article through Twitter, and he was delighted to say the least.

“I really like what he wrote about me,” Hamilton said. “He was real accurate and it’ll really be good for me because I know what I need to work on that can help me with my game.”

Hamilton said he’ll use the article to market himself to other schools.

“I think it’ll give me a good image,” he said.

Gaines did have some criticism.

“Only aspect of his defensive game I was disappointed in was on the ball defense,” Gaines wrote. “Plays high & let average athletes get to the rim on him a couple of times. Depending too much on length & hands to play instead of moving his feet. Plays high defensively. Needs to get lower. Improved core & lower body strength should remedy this weakness in time.”

Hamilton said he appreciated the feedback, especially on areas where he needs to improve.

The final verdict?

“Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this kid to a mid-major Division 1 program,” Gaines wrote. “Wouldn’t be too concerned with worrying if he is a 3 or a 2. He’s got wing skills, but I think he can also play on top of the floor.

“I like versatile players who can do a lot of things well. He fits that template.”

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Boys Basketball: Tucker family forever linked to Pasadena’s success in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

The first thing that comes to mind when people talk about Pasadena High School is its rich history in boys basketball. No doub the Bulldogs are synonymous to succecss when it comes to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

Pasadena (24-6) will make its 11th trip to the finals when it meets Arroyo Grande (22-8) at a time, date and site to be determined later this week.

That the Bulldogs are making an 11th trip is impressive enough, but perhaps even more impressive is the rich history than links that success to Pasadena coach Tim Tucker and his family.

The Tuckers have been involved in nine of those 11 appearances.

Pasadena made its first finals appearance in 1943 when it lost to Redondo in the major division. It would be 29 years before the Bulldogs reaturned to the big stage, led by legendary coach George Terzian and All-American and Oregon State four-year starter George Tucker.

Pasadena in 1972 reached the major division final, losing to Verbum Dei. Pasadena returned in 1973 and again lost to Verbum Dei.

Tim Tucker was a member of the very first Pasadena team to bring home and help fill the school’s trophy case. Pasadena beat Long Beach Poly in 1977 to win the CIF-SS major division championship, state and mythical national championship. Tucker, a senior, then led the Bulldogs again in 1978, exacting revenge against Verbum Dei to bring home the school’s second CIF-SS title.

“It’s special,” Tim Tucker said. “To watch my brother play here and to play gfor George Terzian was pretty amazing because playing for Terzian was like playing for John Wooden of high school basketball back in the day.

“To come to this school and be known as George Tucker’s little brother was amazing, and then to go on and win two championships and become the head coach here is all pretty shocking and amazing. I never thought that would have happened, and to be here 17 years is still amazing.”

The other time a Tucker famiily member was not part of a finals run was in 1995 when Pasadena beat JW North in overtime, 60-58, under head coach Bill Duwe.

Tim Tucker made his first finals run as a head coach in 2002 when the Bulldogs lost to famed coach Gary McKnights and nationally-ranked Mater Dei, 55-49, in the Division II-AA finals at the then-Anaheim Pond. Pasadena returned to the finals in 2005 and lost to Russell Otis and nationally-ranked Compton Dominguez, 57-51, also at The Pond.

The third time proved to be the charm, as Tucker in 2007 led Pasadena to its fourth CIF championship with a 79-63 win over St. Bernard in Division II-AA at the Honda Center. Tucker’s son, Landon, was part of that team as a junior, too.

Pasadena reached the Division II-AA finals in 2009 under Tucker, losing to Eisenhower 79-73 at the Honda Center.

Tucker said he’s hungry to join Terzian as Pasadena’s only two-time CIF champion, but regardless of what happens Pasadena will always be home, and it’s not just talk.

From Tucker’s older brother, sister, to himself, his sons and daughter, they’ve all suited up for Pasadena.

“They talk about Bulldogs for life,” he said. “We’re a Bulldogs family, that’s for sure.”

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FULL COVERAGE WITH VIDEO: Keppel can’t convert with 2.5 seconds left, loses to Lynwood, 62-60, in semifinals of CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

LYNWOOD — The Keppel High School girls basketball team couldn’t convert with 2.5 seconds left in the game as Lynwood escaped with a 62-60 win Tuesday night in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs.

It was the second consecutive game that No. 1 seed Keppel (27-4) faced an opportunity to win the game with a last-second shot attempt. Alyson Lock went coast-to-coast in the quarterfinals and converted the layup as time expired while Canyon of Canyon Country attempted to inbound the ball.

This time the chance barely presented itself as Keppel heaved a pass to mid-court. The catch wasn’t made in time and the Aztecs couldn’t control possession as time expired.

Lock was fouled with 56.5 seconds left in the game and converted two free throws to tie the game 60-60 after being fouled on a steal off a Lynwood inbounds pass.

Lynwood (24-4) missed two free throws on the ensuing possession and after a series possession exchanges that included two Keppel misses, Lynwood’s Jazmine Johnson scored the winning basket on a running layup with 3.1 seconds left in the game.

Keppel coach Hon Trieu called a timeout with 2.5 seconds left in the game to formulate a plan, but to no avail. It was the Aztecs’ second consecutive year of reaching the semifinals under Trieu, who is in his second season at the helm. Keppel will likely make the CIF State playoffs when the pairings are announced on Sunday.

Lock split a double team for a layup to make it 60-55 with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter. Then with 2:52 left in the game, Lynwood coach Ellis Barfield was issued a technical foul for cursing at an official. Keppel’s Samantha Lee, who finished with seven points, made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 60-56. Keppel’s Sandra Gao then hit a layup to make it 60-58 with 2:47 left.

Keppel forced Lynwood to attempt an off-balance shot with a second left on the shot clock. The attempt missed and Keppel called a timeout with 1:40 left in the game. The Aztecs on the ensuing possession missed a 3-point attempt folowed by Lynwood’s Amber Blockmon getting fouled with 1:02 left in the game. She missed both free throws but the Knights maintained possession after the Aztecs couldn’t control the ball under the basket as the ball went out of bounds with 1:00 left in the game. But it wouldn’t matter as Lock would make a steal before being fouled. She hit both free throws for the Aztecs’ final scoring.

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Former scout and front office NBA executive shares his thoughts on Pasadena standout Blake Hamilton, who recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night.

Had a chance to meet Clarence Gaines Jr., a former scout with the Chicago Bulls, and he’s put together a very thorough analysis on Pasadena senior guard Blake Hamilton, who scored 19 points and recorded 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 81-67 win over Beverly Hills in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA playoffs on Friday night.

Here’s some of what he wrote with much more if you click on the link at the bottom:

Thoughts on Blake Hamilton – 6’4″ 180lbs. Pasadena High School – 2/24/12 vs. Beverly Hills High School

Young Senior – 17 – October birthday – Basketball physique – Long wing span & vertical extension – average size hands. Speed, quickness & acceleration. Very coordinated. Explosive – good jumping ability with a step. Light on his feet, quiet runner, lowers stress on the joints.

Impressed with his decision making and poise with the ball in this game. Handles so many roles for his team. A standout as a help/off the ball defender. Has very good defensive tools & excellent defensive range because of length, speed, active hands and desire. Started him initially in the back end of zone press.

Good job of playing safety position. Can cover up others mistake and protect the basket against high school competition. Got a couple of shot blocks as a help side defender. Also played at the point of the press. Love his rebounding ability & have no doubt it will transfer to the next level. Powers out off the dribble & goes coast to coast for several baskets.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ANALYSIS ON BLAKE HAMILTON

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FULL COVERAGE: Game story, video reaction and photos from Pasadena’s 81-67 win over Beverly Hills; will meet Arroyo Grande in the CIF-SS Division 3AAA title game next week at Honda Center. Date and time TBA.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE PASADENA-BEVERLY HILLS GAME

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

It wouldn’t be a Pasadena High School boys basketball game without a little scare.
Beverly Hills proved its worth in the first half keeping the Bulldogs on their heels despite their significant size advantage.

But it never seems to fail.

Pasadena finds its rhythm in the second half, makes big runs in the third quarter on transition plays just like it wants to play.

And that’s what helped the Bulldogs secure an 81-67 win Friday night to punch a ticket into next week’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA championship game at Honda Center.

Second-seed Pasadena (23-7) will face Arroyo Grande, which beat Palm Desert in the other bracket, 51-44. The date has not yet been determined.

The Bulldogs return to the finals since the 2009-10 season when they lost to Eisenhower.

Pasadena wasn’t going call its season a success simply by reaching the finals. Bulldogs coach Tim Tucker has made several trips there and has come away with just one ring in 2007.

In contrast, Beverly Hills (29-10) was making its first trip to the semifinals in 42 years, but the Normans sure played like they had been there before, withstanding Pasadena’s physical play in the first half.

Beverly Hills’ Austin Mills was key in keeping the Normans within 37-32 at halftime. Mills finished with a game-high 23 points, draining 3-pointers from well beyond the arc. Siavache Yoktafar at 5-foot-6 was the smallest player on the court, but he proved elusive and relentless, hitting four 3-pointers for 12 points. He even made a steal in front of the 6-5 Brandon Jolley.

But like many of its victims, Pasadena overwhelmed Beverly Hills with fastbreak runs and led by as many as 17.

“Stops and runs, stops and runs,” Tucker said.

Jolley asserted himself into the offense, and a lot of that had to do with Pasadena moving the ball and looking for him in isolation. His teammates found him and Jolley scored with authority en route to a team-high 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

Blake Hamilton found his mid-range jumper, knocking down clutch shots in the third quarter to finish with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks and freshman Jeffrey McClendon added 12 points off the bench.

“He’s not a freshman anymore,” Tucker said. “He’s going to be a great player. He’s a defensive specialist, gets charges and stops. But he started to knock down some big shots, too.”

Perris Hicks filled in flawlessly at point guard after Ajon Efferson (11 points) rolled his left ankle and was forced to sit out the entire second half.

“We’re going to evaluate him tomorrow,” Tucker said. “Perris took over at (point guard). We could have panicked, and I was worried. But we moved the ball around and got it done. That’s why we’re a team. One guy goes down and we have someone that can step up.”

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Boys Basketball: John Haywood has Pasadena playing follow the leader; Beverly Hills at Pasadena, 7 p.m. in semifinals of CIF-SS Division 3AAA playoffs.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

John Haywood went on and on when describing his role as a senior guard on the Pasadena High School boys basketball team.

“I”m fast, I can put a spark on the team,” Haywood starts. “I can help my team in multiple ways like passing the ball and playing strong defense and motivating the team.”

Pasadena coach Tim Tucker summed it up with four words.

“He’s a floor general.”

Haywood is a three-year letterman whose subtle contributions on the court often go unnoticed. He remains a cool and collected regardless of the situation.

“It never changes,” Tucker said. “I’ve seen him come in sick and he still acts the same. You wouldn’t know it.”

He’s a role player when he needs to be, a defensive specialist with explosive speed that can posterize defenders regardless of size. It was his incredible athletic ability that allowed him to dunk over a 6-foot-9 center from Arizona earlier this year.

“He can get to the basket faster than anybody else,” Tucker said.

But he’s more than speed and brawn muscle.

“He’s the glue of the team,” Tucker said. “He’s the leader, and as he goes we go.”

Look for Haywood to lead the Bulldogs at 7 tonight when they host Beverly Hills in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA playoffs at Pasadena High.

On the surface it’s not hard to notice Haywood. His 6-1 frame and flat-top fade make him stand out, as does his vocal presence. While his numbers (9 point average, four rebounds three steals) don’t suggest star-like numbers, Haywood’s tailored his game to whatever his team needs him to be, and perhaps that’s when he shines the most.

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BREAKING NEWS: Muir coach Gamal Smalley placed on administrative leave pending thorough investigation regarding ineligible use of player.

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Muir forfeits 20 games, will miss playoffs (Pasadena Star-News)

The controversy surrounding the Muir High School boys basketball team’s disqualification from the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs is far from over.

According to sources, the Pasadena Unified School District has placed Muir coach Gamal Smalley on administrative leave pending a thorough investigation surrounding the program having to forfeit 20 victories after the use of an ineligible player, thus eliminating the No. 5 seeded Mustangs from playoff contention.

Smalley on Wednesday afternoon was escorted off campus by assistant principal Charles Park and asked to turn in his keys before immediately meeting with district officials at headquarters.

Muir principal Sheryl Orange and athletic director Robert Galvan could not be reached for comment. Smalley did not return repeated voice mails and text messages left on his cell phone seeking comment.

Smalley also has been instructed not to have contact with his players or team parents and, according to sources, is expected to speak with an independent investigator hired by the district.

Smalley has compiled a 76-30 record in three seasons at the helm, leading the Mustangs to a Division 5AA finals run lastas year. Muir was the only public school listed in the final Division 4AA top 10 poll. It was 24-2 at season’s end, ranked in the top 50 and poised to make a run in the so-called “Super Division”.

But word came the week leading up to the Mustangs’ season finale that the program was under review after the CIF-SS contacted Muir about possible ineligebility concerns surrounding Andre Frazier. The prominent 6-foot-5 forward had previously attended Fairfaix, University High of Los Angeles and Bell-Jeff. At issue was whether there was a valid change of address after transferring from Fairfaix.

School officials made a frantic effort providing documentation, but it proved to be insufficient. School officials exhausted every option that included the application for an at-large berth, which was denied by the CIF-SS.

Orange issued a statement saying that “a valid change of residence could not be sufficiently established” and that as a result “Muir decided to forfeit the games.” When the Pacific League re-submitted its final league standings, Muir was not included.

Frazier has since transfered back to Fairfax.

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