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Mustangs take title for themselves

Basketball: CV boys start out well, but can't close out Muir in league battle.

February 07, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • CV's Cole Currie, left, drives to the basket while Muir's Maurice Ballard defends.
CV's Cole Currie, left, drives to the basket while… (Cheryl A. Guerrero,…)

PASADENA — The Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team was all that stood between Muir and an outright Pacific League championship on Tuesday.

While the Falcons proved to be an immovable object for much of the back-and-forth game, they couldn't hold back the Mustangs from going on a big run to start the fourth quarter. And in the end, although the game tightened up once again down the stretch, they could only watch as Jelani Mitchell sealed host Muir's 66-63 win from the free throw line.

"It was a lot of pressure," said Mitchell, who finished with 16 points and made five of six from the line in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to quell Crescenta Valley's frantic comeback attempt. "This game was for the championship and I really wanted it, the whole team did. I fumbled the ball sometimes and turned it over, but I brought it together and made my free throws."

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Muir (24-1, 13-0), which got 17 points from Tevin Polk and 16 points and seven steals from Dion Nelson, had already clinched at least a share of the league title on Friday when it defeated Glendale and Crescenta Valley beat Pasadena. Now, the only thing left for the Mustangs to shoot for before the start of the CIF playoffs is completing an unbeaten league run and sweeping the season series with archrival Pasadena, which visits Muir on Thursday.

"I'm really proud of our guys, they've come a long way in three short seasons with me at the helm," Muir Coach Gamal Smalley said. "To go this far, 13-0, is pretty incredible."

Crescenta Valley (21-5, 10-3), fresh off its biggest win of the season, was aiming to beat the Mustangs and set up a scenario where a CV win over Arcadia on Thursday, coupled with a Pasadena win over Muir, would create a three-way league championship. Now, the Falcons, who were led by 14 points apiece from guards Cole Currie and Dylan Kilgour, will be rooting for the Mustangs in the hopes of pulling into a tie with the Bulldogs for second place.

"Muir plays with heart for 32 minutes and that pressure wears on you," Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian said. "I think our guys did a good job early, but I think fatigue kind of got to us. ...But Muir played hard. They got after us for 32 and I think our kids played hard. I was proud of the way our kids played tonight. At the end of the day, it's a loss, but I'm proud of their effort."

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