NORTHWEST GLENDALE — In the final minute, the Hoover High and Muir boys' basketball teams found themselves locked in a tight battle. That might be life in the Pacific League this season, with most of the teams expected to be closely bunched throughout.
Muir needed to make two stops in the final 21 seconds to escape.
Hoover's Kyle Bernardo tossed up a three-pointer as time expired, but the shot fell short to give visiting Muir a 41-39 victory Friday night.
"We know Kyle real well," said Muir Coach Gamal Smalley, whose team improved to 13-1 and 2-0 in league. "Any time he shoots it, you think it's going to go in.
"We figured it might come down to a last shot. Hoover did a great job hustling for every loose ball and they gave a great effort the entire way. At the end of the day, we are somehow 13-1."
Hoover (7-8, 1-1) proved it could stay with Muir, which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship game against Flintridge Prep last season.
The Tornadoes also had an opportunity to take the lead with 21 seconds left, but a jumpshot by Jashley Francisco missed. Muir then threw the ball out of bounds, giving the Tornadoes another chance to tie or win the game before Bernardo, who finished with a game-high 17 points, missed his three-pointer.
"We played tough and it's just one more little break here or there," said Hoover Coach Jack Van Patten, whose team made 10 of 49 shots from the floor. "We played great defense, but we didn't shoot the ball well."
With Muir clinging to a 39-37 lead, the Mustangs' Tevin Polk was called for an offensive foul with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. Polk, clearly frustrated, then threw the ball down court and was called for a technical foul. Bernardo, who finished with four steals, made both technical free throws to knot the contest at 39.
The teams combined for 22 first-half fouls and were deadlocked at 22 at halftime. The teams were tied at 30 entering the fourth quarter.
Muir received nine points from Dion Nelson and eight points and 11 rebounds from Taturs Mayberry. Andre Frazier blocked a game-high five shots for the Mustangs.
Gevork Nazaretyan contributed seven points for the Tornadoes.
"It just seemed like we couldn't get on track," Smalley said. "We got those two big stops that we needed in the end."