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Jackson paces Muir past Burbank

BURBANK — When the Muir High and Burbank girls’ basketball teams met a little more than two weeks ago, the game came down to the final seconds, as the Mustangs were able to salvage a three-point win at home.

In Wednesday’s Pacific League rematch at Burbank, the contest was another tight one through three quarters, with Muir clinging to a two-point lead.

However, an eight-point run to start the final frame was enough to give the Mustangs some much-needed momentum. As Muir was surging, the Burbank offense went cold early in the fourth, enabling the Mustangs to step up for a 50-41 victory.

It was a productive three days for Muir (20-3, 9-0 in league), which began the week in a tie for first place with Burbank following a loss Friday to rival Pasadena. The Mustangs found out Monday that Pasadena was going to have to forfeit that win because of the use of an ineligible player. The team also defeated Arcadia on the same day.

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The three wins, coupled with a Burbank (12-10, 6-3) loss Monday to Pasadena and Wednesday’s setback suddenly has the Bulldogs in second place, three games off of the lead.

“With the two losses, I told the girls that we’re going to have to win out if we want to get that second-place spot,” said Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden, whose team hopes to salvage the week with a league game Friday at Crescenta Valley. “We knew that this was going to be a tough week for us, we just have to end it with a win.”

Muir — ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA — seems to have gotten back on the right track after not playing well against Pasadena.

“That loss Friday kind of woke us up,” said Muir sophomore Emoni Jackson, who paced her team on offense and defense with a game-high 20 points to go along with 20 rebounds. “That let us know that we just can’t play around and we have to play tough every single time.”

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The game was a close one throughout the first quarter. Paced by seven points in the quarter from Damarie Gonzalez, the Bulldogs — No. 12 in Division I-A — were able to take a 13-11 advantage.

But Muir fought back and grabbed the lead, 16-13, on a three-pointer by Shaela Flynn that capped a 7-0 run. During the run, the Bulldogs missed their first three shots and committed four turnovers. That all resulted in a 24-21 Muir lead at the half.

Burbank was able to cut into the lead in the third quarter, and a layup from Aja Locke gave the Bulldogs a 28-26 advantage with 3:49 remaining in the stanza. But again the Mustangs came back and took a 32-30 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs didn’t play well in the fourth, converting three of 14 of their field-goal attempts. The team also had five turnovers.

“It wasn’t just that fourth quarter; there were things during the whole game that we didn’t do well,” Breeden said. “Unforced errors and turnovers, not because of pressure, but just turnovers, killed us. We also gave up too many offensive rebounds and we didn’t do a good job at boxing out on their free-throw attempts.”

Muir, which received 11 points from Tahniya Sweatt and nine points and 10 rebounds from Tierra Adams, went on an 8-0 run to start the fourth and enjoyed a 10-point lead with just over five minutes remaining. The Mustangs did make it hard on themselves down the stretch, as they made just seven of 20 free throw attempts in the fourth.

“We changed our defense and I thought that made it harder for them to get a shot off,” said Muir Coach Gary Johnson, whose team switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense. “The key today was our defense. Another key was the play of Tierra, I thought she stepped up.”

Damarie Gonzalez led Burbank with 15 points and sister, Jamie, added 10.

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