BURBANK HIGH — Through the first three quarters, it wasn’t much of a game.
But in the fourth quarter, that all changed.
The Burbank High boys’ basketball team found itself trying to climb up the rough side of a mountain Monday night against visiting Muir. The Bulldogs managed to reach the apex, tying the game in the final minute, but were eventually handed a 58-54 loss.
“We came out lazy, flat, sluggish,” Burbank sophomore guard Andre Spight said.
“They threw some punches and we didn’t punch back early,” Burbank junior guard Austin Pope said.
Muir (11-7, 4-4 in league) took control in the early going and led, 36-22, at halftime.
“The first half, we just weren’t getting shots,” Burbank Coach Jose Hernandez said. “We kept throwing the ball away and making silly decisions.”
Burbank (13-8, 4-4) tied the game, 54-54, with 47 seconds left, erasing a 41-24 deficit midway through the third quarter.
“It shouldn’t have taken us that long to get our backs against the wall and start playing,” Hernandez said.
Burbank ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run, closing the Mustangs’ lead to 43-34.
Spight and Pope sparked a fourth-quarter rally for the Bulldogs. The duo put the team on their backs amid the comeback.
“They were being aggressive,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t until it was a little bit too late before they started going.”
Spight scored a team-high 15 points, including three three-pointers.
Pope scored 14 points and had five rebounds.
“He’s a great player,” Spight said of Pope. "[He] can get to the basket whenever he wants; he’s a phenomenal passer, finds his open teammates and helps us get most of our ‘Ws.’ ”
With 5:30 remaining in the game, Pope found a seam through the defense and rose up for a one-handed dunk.
“I think that’s what jump-started us,” Pope said. “I just think we were more hungry the second half. We didn’t want to lose. If we would’ve carried that to the first half, I think we would’ve won — easily.”
Spight connected on two three-pointers during the surge that trimmed Muir’s lead to 50-46.
“He can make shots for our team that can lift us,” Pope said of Spight. “We both make big plays. That’s what we’re here for.”
Tevin Polk later added a pair of free throws for Muir, which took a 54-50 lead with 1:18 to go. Polk scored a game-high 24 points and added seven rebounds, three steals and an assist.
Following Pope’s slam, Spight answered with back-to-back lay-ups, which tied the game.
With 25.7 seconds left, Muir’s Jelani Mitchell grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on a shot attempt. He netted both free throws, putting the Mustangs up, 56-54. Mitchell was a perfect six-for-six from the line.
On Burbank’s next possession, Pope dribbled the ball out of bounds while trying to drive to the basket.
The Mustangs got two more clutch free throws from guard Dion Nelson, which made it a two-possession game.
Spight got off another three-point attempt, but the ball rolled out of the rim.
Muir used an extended half-court 2-3 trapping zone defense and a three-quarter-court zone press that bothered Burbank.
“They tried to keep us off the basket and keep us off the three-point line,” Spight said.
Both teams grabbed an even 26 rebounds.
“There’s no such thing as consolation wins for us anymore,” Hernandez said. “We’re about the final score and getting the job done.”