Burroughs boys' basketball bests Pasadena in first-place showdown

BURBANK — In his previous four seasons coaching the Burroughs High boys' basketball program, Adam Hochberg had never beaten powerhouse and Pacific League-champion mainstay Pasadena.

"My first year four years ago, we weren't anywhere near the team Pasadena was and we had a five-point lead on them and we blew it and lost," Hochberg said. "We just blew that game and it's always been in the back of my mind."

The coach might just be able to clear his mind of that unfortunate memory after his team's performance Wednesday against the Bulldogs.

Playing an inspired game, Burroughs, on the strength of 31 points from Amaad Wainright, came out and beat visiting Pasadena, 82-77, to notch the program's first Pacific League victory against the Bulldogs.

With the win, the Indians (12-4, 4-0 in league) stay in first place in league and stand as the only unbeaten team.

"They're a good team and there's a reason why they have dominated the league for as long as they have," Hochberg said of the Bulldogs, who slipped to 8-8, 3-1. "You have to kind of get over that mental hurdle when you face them. And I thought that we did that tonight."

The win was historic for Burroughs, as it marked the first victory over Pasadena since joining the Pacific League for the 2006-07 season. During that tenure, the Indians have placed no better than fourth, doing it three times in their first three seasons in the league under then-coach Art Sullivan.

In his previous four seasons, Hochberg's teams have not placed higher than sixth.

"We have had a quick start to league," Hochberg said. "But we just have to build on this win and stay composed and not get complacent. We have to realize what we've been doing has been working and we have to stick with it.

"But this league is not a sprint and we have a long way to go. Fourteen games in this league is a marathon."

What has helped spark Burroughs' success this season has been the play of senior transfers Wainright and Rashid Ewing. The two played a big part in Wednesday's win against Pasadena.

Wainright paced Burroughs, pouring in a team-high 31 points — with five three-pointers — to go along with 14 rebounds. Ewing also did his part, scoring 20. Teammate Steven Hubbell contributed 13 points with three three-pointers.

The big scorer of the night was Pasadena's Ajon Efferson, who tallied 41 points, with an amazing 18 coming in the fourth quarter.

Although the Pasadena senior did his share of damage, the Indians were able to maintain a lead throughout the first three quarters.

It was Efferson who led the Bulldogs back in a thrilling fourth quarter. Burroughs took a 12-point lead, 62-50, with 6:36 left in the game following a basket by Ewing. However, Efferson embarked on a run, scoring eight straight points to get the Bulldogs to within four, 62-50, with 5:31 left.

But Burroughs weathered the storm and maintained the lead until less than a minute and a half remained. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the contest, 75-74, with 1:25 remaining on a pair of Efferson free throws.

The Indians were able to grab the lead right back, however, on a bucket with 1:01 left by Wainright.

The Bulldogs had two good looks at the basket in the final minute, but both shots were off the mark. The Indians were able to stave off any comeback attempt by making their free throws down the stretch.

"We were really pumped up for this," Wainright said. "It all started in the locker room. The locket room was really hyped. Also our bench was really hyped during the game. When your bench is hyped you can win the game.

"We have to prepare for every game like it's a championship game and we did that tonight."

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