BURBANK — Burroughs High put itself in a tough possession in Monday evening's Pacific League boys' basketball game against Muir.
The Indians struggled in the early going, enduring poor shooting that translated into just four points and an early deficit in the opening quarter.
Although Burroughs made up most of the deficit late in the second quarter, it never led in the contest. The Mustangs were able to endure a late push by the Indians in the fourth quarter to hand host Burroughs a 54-45 loss.
With the setback, the Indians — ranked No. 13 in CIF Southern Section Division II-AA — fell to 9-6, 1-2 in league.
Muir (9-6, 2-1) – No. 15 in Division II-A – took advantage of Burroughs' struggles in the opening quarter, which saw the Indians convert just two of their nine shots from the field. That allowed the Mustangs to take a 12-4 lead after one.
"It's tough for a team to have to come back after having a first quarter like we did," first-year Burroughs Coach Allan Ellis said. "I wasn't happy with the way we started that game, we just didn't shoot the ball well at all. Only scoring four points in the first quarter, we're just not converting and finishing shots like we should be.
"We need to find our rhythm on offense and we have to find a way to knock down those shots. Although we got down early, I thought we had plenty of changes to get back into it and come back and take the lead. But every time we would try, we would get a costly turnover or not knock down a shot."
The Indians are a young team, with seniors Tristen Hull and Justin Henderson as the only two returning players with substantial varsity experience.
Hull, an All-CIF Southern Section selection last season, led the Indians with 14 points.
"For a lot of our guys, this is their first time on this kind of stage and we know that Muir is one of the top teams in league and they came out tough," Hull said. "I think that may have been a reason some guys came out with some butterflies.
"But regardless of the loss, I'm proud of the way that we came back and we fought. I really thought that we showed some resilience. Because of that, I'm proud of the way my team played today and I'm not mad at them."
Senior Ryan Del Castillo added 13 points and eight rebounds for Burroughs.
After falling behind by eight following the first quarter, the Indians continued to struggle in the early going of the second. The Mustangs took an 11-point lead, 19-8, on a basket by senior Javonte James (nine points, six rebounds) with 5:03 remaining. But Burroughs embarked on a seven-point run to cut the deficit to 19-15 with 3:12 left.
Burroughs got the advantage down to 23-20, but the Mustangs ended the quarter with a free throw and bucket to go into halftime up, 26-20.
In the third quarter, Burroughs again trimmed the lead to three on five occasions, the last coming on a basket by Henderson (six points, four rebounds) with two seconds left, as the third ended with Muir up, 39-36.
Burroughs looked like it might finally break through when it whittled the advantage to 41-40 with 6:26 remaining after a basket by senior Adam Kaba off an assist from Hull. But turnovers plagued the Indians in the final minutes, as the Mustangs outscored Burroughs, 13-5, the rest of the way.
"It's frustrating, because these are things that we've worked on a lot, but sometimes our youth and our experience, except for Tristen and Justin, causes us to make mistakes," Ellis said. "But they are still learning it and they are still getting it, and hopefully we still got time in the season for them to correct that."
Junior Simanie Stewart Jr. paced Muir with 16 points.