By Dick Dornan
myBurbank Sports Editor
In a game of runs where there were more swings than a pendulum, Muir made its last one count as they held off Burroughs, 63-59, Friday night on the Indians home court.
Trailing 56-55 with 3:16 remaining, the Mustangs outscored Burroughs 7-0 to take a 62-56 lead at the 1:25 mark and then held on for dear life to improve to 4-1 in the Pacific League while handing the Indians a fourth loss in league play.
Chris Hovasapian’s baseline layup and subsequent free throw to complete a three-point play for Burroughs cut Muir’s lead to 62-59. After a Mustang miss from three-point range, the Indians called timeout to set up a play for point guard Steven Hubbell with 12.5 seconds left.
Hubbell accidentally threw an errant pass intended for David Schwer out of bounds resulting in a turnover. On the ensuing possession, the Indians forced the Mustangs into a turnover in the backcourt giving JBHS the ball again with nine seconds left.
Following a timeout, Schwer misfired from the left wing that would have tied the game. Muir tacked on a free throw and came away with a big road win at Burroughs.
“They made shots and made plays for more of a duration than we did and they executed with more poise down the stretch,” Burroughs coach Adam Hochberg said. “This league is really tough. Credit Muir. They did more than we did tonight down the stretch.”
Similar to their opening league game against Pasadena when they were outscored 7-0 in the final minute in a loss to the Bulldogs, the Indians couldn’t finish this game either. Now 10-8 overall and 2-4 in the Pacific League, the Indians could easily be 4-2 or even 5-1 if they executed down the stretch rather than struggle in crunch time.
“It’s another good learning lesson for us that we have to rise to the occasion at the end of the game. We are finding more ways to lose than ways to win,” said Hochberg. “I really liked our fight. We erased the lead they had in a two-and-a-half minute stretch.”
Burroughs entered the contest a game-and-a-half back of league leaders Muir, Pasadena and upstart Glendale. Both the Indians and Mustangs traded punches throughout the game with each team refusing to give in.
The Indians took an early 8-4 lead when the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run to grab a 14-8 lead which they rode to a 21-14 first quarter advantage.
Burroughs responded with a 14-4 run to reclaim the lead, 28-25, after Hubbell drained a three from the right corner with 3:28 left in the second quarter.
Back came Muir (12-6, 4-1) who closed out the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 37-30 lead into the break.
The Mustangs increased their lead to 45-33 to begin the second half as they threatened to pull away from JBHS. Hubbell ignited the Indians comeback with another three-pointer as the junior scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the quarter.
Hubbell’s jumper with 36 seconds left followed by two free throws from Hovasapian (17 points) gave Burroughs the lead, 50-49, completing a 17-4 run to end the third quarter.
There were five lead changes in the final period setting up the wild finish. Forward Jakob Davis knocked down two free throws to give the Indians their final lead of the evening, 56-55, with 3:16 remaining in the game.
Muir’s Daniel Harris then drilled a three from the right corner to regain the lead. An offensive rebound put-back by Jermey Hayes and layup off a steal from Tiyon Martin pushed the lead back to six, 62-56, and the Mustangs pulled out the win.
After grinding out a win on the road at Arcadia, 64-62, earlier in the week, the Indians fell short against the ‘Stang and now face Hoover on January 20 and Burbank on the 23rd with hopes of getting back into the league race.
“We are a team that when we believe we have to be grinders we are a better team,” Hochberg said. “When we believe in each other we are a better team.
“We’ve been in a ton of close games. More poise, rise to the occasion and never ever mistake activity for achievement. We need to execute at this level to be the type of team we want to be the second half of the season.”