Basketball: Pasadena Police hogging parking lot at Muir, won’t allow Star-News photographer to unload equipment.

Not sure the reason behind Pasadena Police not allowing media to park in the lot directly in front of the gym for the big game tonight, which is running late by the way. I talked to a police officer who said they were not allowing anybody to park there. Muir AD Robert Galvan has no pull and conceded to police instructions. I got here at 2:30ish and was allowed to park there instead of parking about a block away. Our photographer, who has equipment to unload, couldn’t even drive in to do that. When I asked if there was a reason for not allowing media to park there his response was, “I’m not going to get into it with you.”

I’m not trying to be a jerk. If there’s a legitimate reason for not allowing anybody else to park in the lot, fine. But what’s the harm in allowing media to park there? The lot is almost full, maybe about four spaces available. Seems to me like allowing a female photographer to park there would be harm to no one. There are five police cars parked in the lot and about 12 police officers are expected to be at the game.

I understand police is trying to prevent what happened last time, a fight broke out after the Muir-PHS game and Muir had trouble getting to its bus.

I’m just puzzled why there can’t be some discretion.

Also, the girls game didn’t start until 3:45 p.m. so expect the boys game to start around 5:40ish. Ther’es still some seating available as I’m writing this with 4:48 left in the second quarter of the girls game.

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No pre-sale tickerts will be available for tonight’s Pasadena-Muir game. Several hundred were left stranded outside in the first meeting, including dozens who bought pre-sale tickets but couldn’t enter the gym after it reached maximum capacity. To prevent that problem, Muir officials are asking that fans who want to get to the game get there as early as possible. The girls game starts at 3 p.m. followed by the boys game at 5 p.m. The first Muir-PHS meeting sold out at halftime of the girls game. You’ve been warned.

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Boys Basketball: PHS wants payback against Muir at 5 p.m. Today; Remember, no presale tickets for tonight’s game. First come, first serve. Expect a sellout by 4 p.m.

There’s nothing to settle in the Pacific League standings, where the Muir High School boys basketball team sits comfortably atop. The Mustangs bring home their first league title in boys basketball after dethroning nine-time league champion and rival Pasadena.
Muir (24-1, 13-0) is the outright champion after beating Crescenta Valley (21-5, 10-3) on Tuesday, meaning all that’s on the line is bragging rights when Muir hosts Pasadena (18-7, 11-2) today at 5 p.m.

Pasadena lost to Muir in the first meeting, 64-61. It’s believed to be the Mustangs’ first win over their rival in league in at least a decade.

Pasadena coach Tim Tucker, in his 17th season at the school, said he can’t remember the last time the Bulldogs were swept by Muir, or Crescenta Valley for that matter, which has handed Pasadena three of its four losses in league during a 10-year span.

Even if there league-placement implications were on the line, it wouldn’t matter because Muir and Pasadena play in different divisions. Muir is No. 9 in Division 4AA, which also includes powerhouse La Verne Lutheran and L.A. Price. Pasadena is No. 2 in Division 3AAA and is considered a favorite to reach the final.

Muir has the upper hand in the Star-News rankings as well. The Mustangs are No. 1 while Pasadena is No. 2. The swap came after Muir’s win a few weeks ago over its rival and marked the first time the Star-News didn’t have Pasadena No. 1 in at least four years. Muir currently is No. 52 in the state. Pasadena is No. 55 and dropped a few spots after losing to Crescenta Valley on a late field goal.
Whatever the case, Pasadena is out to get Muir, especially after watching its rival fans storm its own court.

Pasadena will field the same lineup (Brandon Jolley, Blake Hamilton, Ajon Efferson, Perris Hicks and John Haywood) and has no plans on resting its players with playoffs looming.

“I’m playing to win the game,” Tucker said. “I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

Muir’s lone concern is whether 6-foot-5 forward Andre Frazier will play. He sat out Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons after questions over his eligibility were raised upon his transfer from Bell-Jeff last year.

“I’m hoping that everything will be worked out,” Smalley said.

Pasadena, which will wear the same black uniforms it wore against Crescenta Valley, has one thing on its mind and it’s blatantly clear.

“It’s payback tomorrow,” Tucker said.

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Boys Soccer: Big games today. I’ll be live from Loyola to catch St. Francis compete for a chance at Mission League championship; La Salle in Del Rey and Bosco Tech in Camino Real leagues looking to finish season with exclamation mark, too.

I’ll be the first to admit I have not caught as much soccer as I would have wanted to this season, and it’s really a shame with all the good talent throughout our side of town. I’ve been such a stranger to the sport this season that St. Francis coach Glen Appels said “Are you lost?” when I dropped in unannounced to one of his practices while on my way to a Muir-Crescenta Valley basketball game. It’s a complete 180 turn from when I spoke with Appels almost on a weekly basis last year. Nevertheless, any chance I have had to hit the pitch I’ve enjoyed the soccer very much, and the same goes for girls soccer. Pasadena’s boys soccer team has a lot of raw talent and great upside. I caught La Salle earlier this week and was really impressed with their play. Their attack is fluid and non-stop. I’ll be live from Loyola today where the Cubs will host rival St. Francis. It’s simple, if the Golden Knights win they clinch a share of the tough Mission League title and head into Division I playoff action with some serious momentum. St. Francis tied Loyola in the first meeting, a surging comeback by the Golden Knights to continue their strong play in league play. La Salle will try to clinch its first league title since 2006 when it visits St. Paul today. The Swordsmen are struggling this season, so the Lancers should come away with a good result, provided they don’t enter the game too confident. Bosco Tech is 7-0-2 in league and looks to complete the sweep at home today. I’ll try to update you with these scores later today.

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Video highlights from Crescenta Valley-Muir; Mustangs dethrone Pasadena as Pacific League champions.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

PASADENA –The last step atop the Pacific League ladder proved to be the toughest.

Not only did the Muir High School boys basketball team have to face a Crescenta Valley team that derailed Pasadena’s chances of repeating as league champion for the 10th consecutive year, it did so without its most physical forward.

When the shock of losing Andre Frazier finally wore off in the second half, the Mustangs turned up the heat like they always do, but it was Jelani Mitchell’s clutch free throws in the waning minute that paved the way for a66-63 win over the visiting Falcons on Tuesday night to claim the school’s first league title in over a decade.

Muir (24-1, 13-0) got off to a rough start offensively, and the absence of a big body in Frazier (6-foot-5, 180 pounds) showed. Frazier sat outfor precautionary reasons after Muir officials learned his eligibility might be in danger upon his transfer from Bell-Jeff last year. A clerical error was identified on Monday, though it’s uncertain how significant an error was made. Over those concerns, however,Smalley decided to sit Frazier while paperwork with Bell-Jeff and the CIF-Southern Section is sorted out in an effort to save Frazier’s eligibility while keeping Muir’s unbeaten league record intact with one game left in the regular season before the playoffs.

Nevertheless, Muir used an8-0 run in the third quarter to take its first lead of the game 40-39 on a Mitchell 3-pointer with 4:21 left in the third quarter. Mitchell, a junior guard, finished with 16 points and hit five free throws in the final 38 seconds to seal the win.

Muir overcame a sloppy start, missing 8 of its first 9 attempts in the first quarter. The Mustangs’ suffocating defense was there from the start, forcing Crescenta Valley (21-5, 10-3) into a turnover just 10 seconds into the game.

But Muir’s cold start meant climbing an uphill battle from the very start. Its speed was met by a virtual wall in the first half, and Mitchell was kept silent as he took only two shot attempts in the first half. Muir at halftime, 37-31.

“I reamed him at halftime because we can’t have a guy like him taking just two shots in the first half,” Muir coach Gamal Smalley said. “We need a guy of his caliber to shoot like we know he can shoot.”

Mitchell took the message and ran with it, creating chances with fluid passing at the top of the key to create spacing. Tevin Polk reaped the benefits, scoring a game-high 18 points. Polk wasn’t the only key contributor.

Muir’s Dion Nelson was effective as the game went on, finding his soft stroke from mid-range. He finished with 16 points, but it was his game-high seven steals that really gave the Mustangs momentum.

“His seven steals were a real big game-changer,” Smalley said.

Crescenta Valley went hot in the first half with Dylan Kigour, who seemingly couldn’t miss from the 3-point line to finish with 14 points. Cole Currie and Christian Missi each scored 15 points and Davis Dragovich added 14. The Falcons maybe got a little too greedy from beyond the arc, going cold from there in the second half. By the time Crescenta Valley started feeding it to the bigs inside it was too late.

Polk in the third quarter got the Mustangs started with a drive-in layup followed by Mitchell’s very own with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Crescenta Valley turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and Mitchell squared up for a 3-pointer to pull Muir within 40-39. Crescenta Valley called a timeout, but it wouldn’t matter, the Mustangs were in a defensive zone, trapping the Falcons on nearly every inbounds pass.

Despite no success inside in the first half, Polk’s determination never waned. He continued attacking inside that led to free throws and even a dunk followed by a fastbreak layup to help the Mustangs retain a 51-49 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Maurice Ballard, who finished with nine points, opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. Brian Carrier played in place of Frazier and did a solid job making it hard for the Falcons’ tall front court. Taturs Mayberry finished with six points and five rebounds.

All that’s left now is Thursday’s game against rival Pasadena, which will have no playoff or league standing implications.

Bragging rights, however, is still up for grabs.

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Boys Hoops: Maranatha routed by Village Christian, 70-47; Minutemen finish second in Olympic League.

By Gerry Gittelson, Correspondent

LOS ANGELES – Village Christian High won a league championship in boys basketball for the first time in 17 years Tuesday with a 70-47 victory over visiting Maranatha to clinch the Olympic League title before a near-capacity crowd at Village Christian.

With a significant height advantage, combined with crisp fundamentals and all-out hustle, the Crusaders scored the first eight points while jumping to a quick 12-point lead after five minutes.

Village Christian, which last won a basketball title in 1995 in the Alpha League, steadily built a 20-point lead, and Maranatha never threatened.

“It feels great, especially to do this in my senior year,” Village Christian’s Marquis Salmon said.

Salmon scored 19 points, including a crowd-pleasing dunk on an alley-oop, and the 6-foot-7 forward also had seven rebounds and played smothering defense against standout guard Jeremy Major.

Major, who committed to Pepperdine two weeks ago, scored 27 points, but he managed to make just 6 of 22 shots, as the 5-9 junior had difficulty finding open looks against Salmon, who is almost a foot taller.

“It was hard, but it’s all right – I’ve played against bigger players before,” Major said. “It’s all good. This was a chance to up my game.”

Salmon and Major are friends off the court, and Salmon implored Village Christian coach Jon Shaw to let him guard Major.

“I told my coach I wanted the challenge,” Salmon said.

Village Christian has benefited from the summer arrival of top sophomores Marsalis Johnson and Bryan Alberts and impact junior Alex English from Alemany. Johnson scored 17 points with 11 rebounds and six blocks, and Alberts scored 15 points with seven assists, five steals and five rebounds.

“Those three have made a big impact,” Major said.

Maranatha (19-6, 6-2) shot 27 percent from the floor, including 3 of 23 on 3-pointers. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak.

Village Christian (23-2, 7-0), ranked No. 2 in the DivisionV-AA poll, has won 21 of its past 22 games.

Andrew Elffers had nine points for Maranatha. No one else scored more than four.

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Boys Hoops: South Pasadena clinches share of RHL title.

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

LA CANADA-FLINTRIDGE – Calm, cool and league champions.

That is what the South Pasadena High School boys basketball team can claim after scoring a 44-38 victory over host La Canada to clinch at least a share of its first Rio Hondo League title in 21 years.

The Tigers made nearly all of their free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter to beat the Spartans, who have had a virtual lock on the league title the past 20 years. La Canada has won the last two titles and 10 of the last 11.

The Tigers made 10 of 12 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

“You have to make them when they count,” South Pasadena coach Timothy Brown said. “I tell the guy that it’s not free time when you’re practicing them.”

The Spartans can only share the crown if host Temple City beats South Pasadena on Thursday and the Spartans defeat host Monrovia. They would finish tied for the league title, but South Pasadena would be the No. 1 playoff seed by virtue of its season sweep of the series.

James Kawakami made all six of his free-throw attempts, his only points of the game, when the Spartans were desperately trying to keep it from getting out of hand.

South Pasadena made 23 of its 27 free-throw attempts. La Ca ada was 7 of 15 from the line.

“I wasn’t thinking,” Kawakami said of his shots. “I was just trying to get the ball in the basket. (The free-throw difference) was huge. It changed the whole game.”

Neither team shotthe ball particularly well. The Tigers shot 27 percent (9 of 33) from the field and the Spartans shot 29 percent (13 of 44). La Ca ada, which has held to opponents to 44 points or fewer in 18 of 25 games this season, led in the first half, but the Tigers seemed to take control.

With the score tied at 31 at the start of the fourth quarter, Harry Yadav sank a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt of the game.

“You just have to be ready,” he said. “I got the opportunity and I’m glad I made it.”

Alireza Jabalameli, who got the Tigers back in the game in the third quarter by scoring nine of his 17 points, hit a foul shot for a four-point lead with 1:56 to play.

“I just needed to put my team on my back,” he said. “But at the same time I made sure our players got involved.”

La Canada twice cut the lead to three down the stretch, but the Spartans were never able to tie it.

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Girls Basketbal: Muir’s Emoni Jackson taking charge.

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

PASADENA – Everything fell on Emoni Jackson’s shoulders before she knew it.

That was not supposed to be the case. The Muir High School sophomore figured to be the third or even fourth cog in the Mustangs’ return to the top of the Pacific League in girls basketball this season. But junior Jordan Jackson was lost for the season before it even started because of a knee injury. Senior Tyler Polk followed with a knee injury that will require surgery later this month.

Suddenly, Emoni Jackson was the “it” girl.

“Emoni has had to take on a big chunk and she’s been responding,” Muir coach Gary Johnson said. “Basically we lost two girls that were supposed to be starters. Without them we’re 22-3 and that is really something to say.

“Back then, we did not think they would be able to key on her every game. We knew Tyler Polk would give us 10 or 12 points inside every game.”

The Mustangs, who did not win the league title for the first time in a decade last season, clinched the championship on Friday with a 64-36 victory over Glendale. They close out the regular season with games today at Crescenta Valley and Thursday against Pasadena. The Bulldogs handed the Mustangs their lone loss in league, 36-34, but then had to forfeit the victory.

“That was our first game where we weren’t in the right mindset,” Emoni Jackson said of the loss. “We missed a lot of free throws and had a lot of turnovers. It woke us up and let us know we can’t messaround.”

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