Girls Basketball: Muir loses to St. Bernard 67-49, game is called with 1:35 left in the game after Muir’s Tahniya Sweatt suffers neck injury.

Above: Paramedics tend to Muir’s Tahniya Sweatt, who finished with 10 points.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

PASADENA — The Muir High School girls basketball team exceeded expectations this year, what with key players not available in the tailend of the Mustangs’ season.

It was only a matter of time until Muir’s lack of depth would become an issue. That day finally came Wednesday as the Mustangs couldn’t keep up with St. Bernard, losing 67-49 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.

Muir (27-4) won the Pacific League championship despite at times having no more than two players on the bench. But even a full bench might not have made a difference against a more skilled St. Bernard (23-7), which overwhelemed the Mustangs with its full-court press and aggressiveness on the glass.

While Muir shot a woeful 30 percent in the game that ultimately led to its demise, it was the last thing on player’s mind at game’s end, which came with 1:35 left in the game.

Muir senior Tahniya Sweatt, who finished with 10 points, suffered a neck injury after going for a loose ball. It’s uncertain whether her momentum going after the loose ball had her crashing against the first row of the bleachers or if she was pushed out of bounds. Fans in the front row were adament that she was deliberately pushed out of bounds, but Muir coach Gary Johnson said he did not believe it was intentional. The game was halted for a few minutes before it was determined that an ambulance would be needed. That’s when Johnson called the game.

Continue reading “Girls Basketball: Muir loses to St. Bernard 67-49, game is called with 1:35 left in the game after Muir’s Tahniya Sweatt suffers neck injury.” »

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Keppel at Newbury Park
La Canada at Covina
St. Bernard at Muir
La Salle at Campbell Hall
Avalon at AGBU/Pasadena
Rio Hondo Prep at Santa Maria Valley Christian

Los Osos at Arcadia
Claremont at Pasadena Poly
Ocean View at La Canada
South Pasadena at Sage Hill
San Marino at Loara
Viewpoint at Alhambra
Firebaugh at Rosemead

El Segundo vs. Pasadena Poly at Fullerton College, 4 p.m.

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Boys Basketball: Pasadena beats Bonita 64-50, advances to Friday’s semifinals vs. Beverly Hills at Muir.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

PASADENA — It wasn’t exactly shock and awe, but the Pasadena High School boys basketball team came close to it.
With precision, speed and execution, the second-seeded Bulldogs blitzed Bonita in the first quarter to end on a 15-3 run, en route to a 64-50 win Tuesday night in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA playoffs.

Pasadena (22-7) will host Beverly Hills (20-9) in Friday’s semifinals at Muir.
Bonita (25-5) had no answer for the Bulldogs in the first quarter, succumbing to their pressure that resulted in nine first-quarter turnovers. The Bearcats finished with 19 turnovers.

Pasadena led 22-7 after the first, and although Bonita, which trailed by as many as 19, made a valiant second-half run it never closed the gap under 10.

“The first five minutes we sort of got blitzed,” Bonita coach Greg Eckler said. “It was just too late before we found ourselves. I wish we had back those first five minutes.”

Pasadena coach Tim Tucker scouted Bonita two weeks before the season ended, knowing well that the Bearcats presented a challenge with their deft perimeter shooting, led by Matt Adamo’s 14 points. Brandon Ko proved tenacious for the Bearcats, finishing with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds. The Bulldogs reversed roles, this time getting off to a strong start before complacency ensued in the second half.

“I didn’t want (Bonita) on my side of the bracket,” Tucker said. “This is the game I pointed that was scary to me, and they prove dit. When we could have knocked them out early we didn’t. I thought we just outlasted them. I don’t think we did anything great down the stretch.”

Blake Hamilton accentuated the Bulldogs’ speed with two fastbreak dunks to finish with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds along with three blocks and three steals. Sophomore point guard Ajon Efferson led the way for Pasadena with a game-high 18 points and three assists.

The Bulldogs shot better (42 percent on 20 of 47) than the Bearcats (36 percent on 20 of 55) but what seemingly kept Bonita in the game was its offensive rebounding edge (14-7) and ability to take the Bulldogs out of their element. Pasadena’s run-and-gun offense and easy buckets in transition was virtually nonexistent in the second half.

“We’d take quick shots and we go down the court and play defense for 25 seconds,” Tucker said. “They were making the game longer for us than we were making it for them, thus we looked real tired down the stretch.”

John Haywood’s steal and fastbreak layup with 6:06 left in the game gave Pasadena a 27-8 lead. But it was Bonita on the ensuing possession had three offensive rebounds before Bryan Mahood (12 points, 5 rebounds) hit an 8-foot jumper, much to the chagrin of Tucker, who called a timeout.

“We were standing around, making one pass and shooting the ball,” Tucker said. “Every fourth (possession) we did (run our offense) but for the most part we didn’t.”

Pasadena forward Brandon Jolley, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, 8 assists and three steals, said the team lacked mental focus.

“We got a lead and decided to take it easy,” he said. “We were just thinking they were not a good team, and we were helping them.”

Pasadena did just enough to get by. Hamilton’s dunk on a fastbreak off a Haywood no-look pass made it 31-18 with 1:22 left in the second quarter. Jolley found Hamilton down the baseline for another dunk with 1:01 left in the game to make it 61-47.

“Every time I thought we made a run, they answered,” Eckler said. “Every time. They’d hit a three or a jumper. They’re really good.”

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Boys Basketball: La Caada loses in OT, 59-58.

By Keith Lair Staff Writer

TORRANCE — The La Caada High School boys basketball team has had a habit of missing its fair of easy shots and turning the ball over this season. The Spartans have done their fair share of forcing opponents into the same circumstances, too.

Tuesday night, it was turnovers that finished off La Caada’s season.

The Spartans turned the ball over four times in overtime and host South scored a 59-58 victory to advance to Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA semifinals.

“Turnovers were critical,” La Caada coach Tom Hofman said. “We didn’t handle our composure well and we didn’t get good shots because we were running around.”

La Caada twice rallied from deficits, Darrell Dansby scoring on a backdoor layup with 14 seconds in regulation to send the quarterfinal game into overtime.

“When Darrell made the backdoor, it was great and it gave us momentum,” center Conner Boyd said. “But we just couldn’t get it together in overtime.”

The Spartans of South, the tournament’s fourth seed, scored the first basket of the extra 4-minute period, Garrett Niida on a layup.

La Caada, the tournament’s third seed, turned the ball over on two consecutive trips down the court. Gibran Sewani scored on a layup for a 55-51 South lead with 2:13 to play. Dansby, who had nine of his team-high 16 points in the first quarter, missed on a 22-footer. Both teams turned the ball over and then La Canada’s Tim Kim missed a 6-footer.

La Caada was then forced to foul and Amar Kukreja gave South a 57-51 lead with 49 seconds remaining. Kim hit two foul shots and Kukreja and Sewani made single foul shots to give South a 59-53 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

Boyd missed a desperate 3-pointer,got his own rebound and scored with 4 seconds to go to cut it to four. Kukreja stepped out of bounds on the inbounds pass and Jay Srinivasan hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

He made four 3-pointers in the game, two in the fourth quarter to rally La Caada, 17-11, from a six-point deficit.

It was not quite the offensive play Hofman wanted down the stretch.

“We didn’t do the job on offense,” Hofman said. “We tried to get it inside to Conner and we were a little too much helter-skelter. We put the ball on the ground too much too early. They weren’t setting up the way we wanted them to.”

The 6-0 deficit to start the extra period did not help, Boyd said.

“I don’t know what happened in overtime,” he said. We let them score six uncontested points and we had to try and come back from that. It’s pretty hard to do.”

It appeared as if South, 18-11, would make this a no-contest game in the opening minutes. South had six offensive rebounds in the first half, nearly all of them resulting in put-back baskets for a 14-4 lead. Hofman sent in Boyd, the son of USC basketball great Bob and the grandson of UC coach Bill Sewani, who had six points in the first quarter and 13 in the game, missed his next five shots.

“Conner did a great job defensively,” Hofman said. “He contained him very well. We could have been blown out right away.”

Dansby got La Caada with his nine first-quarter points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

La Caada could have opened a lead in the first half, but missed seven foul shots. Three South starters had three fouls
each before halftime.

“We were pressuring the ball and a lot of calls did not go our way,” South coach Leo Klemm said. “We played smart and man-to-man mostly in the second half. No gimmicks. We wanted to keep everybody in front of us.”

La Canada, which shot a surprising 64.2 percent from the floor in the first half, shot 33.3 percent in the second half.

“We had so many chances to score,” Hofman said. “We didn’t do it. It was a great season.”

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Boys Soccer: La Caada offense stalls, loses 2-0.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

LA CAADA-FLINTRIDGE — It’s usually the La Caada High School boys soccer team that keeps teams on its heels.

Mountain View flipped the script on Tuesday.

The visiting Vikings, mounting constant pressure, made a set piece and attack down the wing count in a 2-0 victory in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.

Mountain View (13-4-5) lost the coin flip and will be on the road and face the Lakeside-Paso Robles winner.

La Caada (14-6-5) bows out of the playoffs in the second round for the third consecutive season. The Spartans’ season practically came in full circle. The teams previously tied 1-1 in the season opener. In that game, the Vikings also were dominant and finished with a 23-3 advantage in shots.
Mountain View wasn’t as dominant this time, but it came close.

The attack was constant throughout and it paid dividends in the 22nd minute when Ricardo Diaz connected on a header off Alan Miranda’s free kick. Diaz, who was unmarked, connected near the goal post and caught La Caada sophomore goalkeeper Graham Labran-Boyd out of position. By the time he turned to make a save attempt it was too late.

“Just mistakes and letting kids get unmarked,” first-year La Caada coach Alex Harrison said. “(Labran-Boyd) couldn’t turn in time to get to the play, but that’s youth as well.”
The Spartans built some momentum early in the second half, but it dissipated almost as quickly as they got it going after the Vikings’ Jesus Mariscal broke free. His shot was virtually uncontested from 18 yards and deflected off the goal past and into the net for a 2-0 lead in the 47th minute.

La Caada’s Armand Bagramyan, a junior forward with 23 goals and 15 assists, was kept in check. He faced a swarm of defenders whenever he took possession. The Spartans’ best chance came in the 46th minute after a free kick. But Garrett Apel’s shot attempt from 40 yards went just wide of the net. In the 76th minute, Bagramyan’s free kick sailed just over the cross bar.

“We knew who to mark,” Mountain View’s Carlos Zarate said. “We used that to defend their tactics. We knew (Bagramyan) was the most dangerous player on the field.”
Zarate and Mariscal proved to be constant threats from the wing, and their deft ball-handling tested Labran-Boyd. The young keeper got help from Joseph Kim, Aidan Tourani and Jonas Dehmel, all of whom helped clear shot attempts.

In short, the pressure was on.

“We kept a lot of possession,” Mountain View coach Felipe Corona said.

It was tough for La Caada to push forward without senior midfielder Zaki Khan and freshman forward Juan Carrasquero. Khan was limited to a few set pieces because of lingering ankle injuries and Carrasquero tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the first 10 minutes of a first-round match. With the Spartans’ experience, size and speed missing, the Vikings pounced by making constant substitutions.

“We gave away the middle of the field all day long,” Harrison said. “(Khan) is good at winning the ball and works for every loose ball. Not only that, he’s 180 pounds. If he can’t get the ball he slows you down with his body. He has size in there that we just don’t have.

“Mentally, they’re nervous. They have 35 guys on their roster and have guy after guy they can put in. It’s tough.”

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