Nitros can't keep up with fast Mustangs

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Muir High boys' basketball Coach Gamal Smalley wasn't up for a repeat performance Friday night when the Mustangs met Glendale in a Pacific League road contest.

This time around, Muir built a big enough lead and held off a late Nitro rally to earn a 66-54 Pacific League victory.

"We know Glendale always has some great shooters and you have to respect their shooters because they can always come back," said Smalley, who cited Glendale overcoming a 13-point second-half deficit last season to knock off the Mustangs, who were then the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division V-AA. "We learned from last year that you have to respect Glendale.

"We did a great job [Friday] at getting out to that big lead and getting some turnovers that led to points."

For Glendale, the loss overshadowed an excellent performance from senior center David Yetenikyan, who grabbed a school-record 23 rebounds. He also contributed 15 points, all in the second half, four assists and three blocks. Yetenikyan had 13 first-half rebounds.

The Mustangs (16-1, 5-0 in league) got 15 points, five assists and three blocks from senior forward Andre Frazier. Taturs Mayberry, fresh off a 42-point performance against Burroughs on Wednesday, contributed 14 points and seven rebounds to help the Mustangs win their fifth game in a row.

Muir held a 52-37 lead early in the fourth quarter before Glendale (7-10, 2-3) made a comeback bid. A three-pointer by senior forward Sevan Pogosyan brought the Nitros to within 57-50 with 2:31 remaining in the game, which was delayed for about 15 minutes because of a scoreboard malfunction.

"Muir set the tempo by the way they came out," Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said. "I loved how we competed [in the second half].

"We just short armed a couple of shots and missed some free throws.

"Muir just answered the bell and they deserved [the win]. They got support from a couple of their shooters."

Muir, which advanced to the division championship game against Flintridge Prep last season, took advantage of several sloppy Glendale passes in the first half to take a 38-21 halftime advantage.

Muir senior guard Dion Nelson (12 points and four steals) stole an inbounds pass and scored on a layup to give the Mustangs a 25-10 lead with 7:09 left in the second quarter. Glendale got to within 29-19 on a three-pointer by Pogosyan with 3:20 remaining in the first half. Pogosyan had 16 of his 19 points in the first half.

Frazier made a buzzer-beating as time expired to end the first quarter to give the Mustangs a 20-10 lead.

"I thought we did a good job on offense in the first half, but then we got away from it in the second half," said Smalley, who eight points and eight assists from senior guard Michael Cockrell. "Why go away from something that was working?"

Junior guard Arada Zakarian contributed eight points for Glendale.

The teams will next meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at Muir.

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