PASADENA — Fresh off a rivalry win Friday against Muir High, the Pasadena girls' basketball team looked to Monday's game against Burbank as another step in its quest to put itself in position to vie for a Pacific League championship.
But that effort was dealt a big blow even before tip-off against the visiting Bulldogs.
Earlier in the day, Pasadena learned it would be forced to forfeit three league games because of the use of an ineligible player.
In a statement released by Adam Wolfson, director of communications and community engagement for the Pasadena Unified School District, it revealed that Pasadena would have to forfeit three wins: Jan. 6 against Burroughs, Jan. 9 against Glendale and Friday against the Mustangs.
"After investigating the academic progress of our athletes, it was discovered that a player on the Pasadena High School girls' varsity basketball team was academically ineligible from [Dec. 23, 2011] to the present," the statement read. "Because of this discovery, PHS will be forfeiting the wins in the … league games that this player played in."
The forfeits overshadowed a fine performance Monday against Burbank in which a depleted Pasadena team earned a 62-54 win at home.
Pasadena was missing a group of players for the game and when asked about the reason for the athletes being held out Coach Wesley Stewart said, "We don't need to go into that right now."
Instead of being in second place a game behind league-leading Muir with the win, the three additional losses put Pasadena (9-10, 3-5) — ranked No. 11 in CIF Southern Section Division III-AA — into sixth place in league.
Burbank (12-9, 6-2) — No. 12 in Division IA — came into the game in a tie for first place with Muir (7-1). The loss knocked the Bulldogs to second place.
Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden said his squad might have gotten a bit over confident when it saw Pasadena was missing some key players.
"I think because that we saw that they didn't have all of their players we came out nonchalant," Breeden said. "And they took it to us. We have to figure out how, when we get up into first place, what it takes to stay there."
Pasadena was forced to bring up some players from its junior varsity team to compensate for the missing regulars. That turned out to be a productive move, especially when it came to freshmen sisters Aleen and Nyree Jaukadarian. The siblings made themselves at home, as Aleen scored 19 points and Nyree added nine.
Pasadena also received an 18-point effort from Dariel Johnson and 12 from Megan Rutherford.
Burbank fell behind after the first quarter, 15-10, and trailed at the half, 43-38.
Burbank was able to whittle the lead down to four points, 40-36, with 1:44 left in the third quarter on a three-point play by Damarie Gonzalez. But Pasadena was able to enjoy a 43-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After leading by 10, 56-46, with 2:36 left in the game, Burbank cut the deficit to six, 56-50, on a three-point play by Gonzalez with 2:19 left.
"We just took our time and we were able to play smart basketball," Stewart said. "We have been playing smarter for the last four games or so, and we want to continue doing that."
Gonzalez led Burbank with 17 points and Aja Locke added 10.