Muir turns tables on Spartans

LA CAÑADA — The tables were turned when the La Cañada High and Muir boys' basketball teams met in the La Cañada Holiday Classic Tournament Friday.

The Mustangs came out and avenged last year's tournament loss to La Cañada with a full-court press on defense and quick transition offense. The Spartans made the deficit respectable in the fourth quarter, but still lost at home, 50-37.

Muir Coach Gamal Smalley admitted Friday night was a statement game for his squad after La Cañada defeated the Mustangs, 63-40, in its 2010 tournament.

"It was, I'm not going to lie, because it's [La Cañada Coach] Tom Hofman on the other side," Smalley said. "He has such a storied history of success. You always get up for La Cañada. They beat us by 23 last year and had a lot of seniors. This year, we have a lot of seniors."

The Spartans (5-2) were down a starter Friday after starting power forward Tim Kim sprained his ankle in Wednesday's game against Arcadia.

"We needed Tim today for his athleticism," Hofman said.

It was early nerves, which led to 32 total turnovers, that killed the Spartans, though.

"Our turnovers were horrendous," Hofman said. "It's a preseason game against a very good Muir team. They exposed some areas that we need to get back in the gym and work on and that's why we wanted to play them.

"[The Mustangs] are going to create turnovers, they are so athletic, but we created our own turnovers half the time."

Taturs Mayberry, Jelani Mitchell and Tevin Polk led Muir (6-0), which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship game last year, in scoring. Mayberry had a game-high 12 points, four rebounds and four steals. Mitchell and Polk both had 11 points.

Polk said Muir, currently ranked eighth in CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA, is determined to live up to its hype this year.

"There's big expectations, there's talk around the town," Polk said. "We have to live up to those expectations and do what we do."

Both teams started sloppy, as Muir committed seven turnovers and La Cañada, which won the Division III-AA title, had nine giveaways in the first quarter. The Mustangs were able to rebound and get on the board first more than four minutes into the game and build a 10-0 lead with about two minutes to go in the opening quarter.

The Spartans, currently ranked second in Division III-AA, were able to cut the deficit down to 11-6 by the end of the first quarter, but Muir went on a 13-0 run to start the second to build a commanding 24-6 lead. La Cañada regained some composure and cut the lead down to 29-15 by halftime after committing 17 turnovers in the first half.

The biggest exclamation point of the night came with 5:33 left in the second quarter when Muir's Andre Frazier got a steal at halfcourt and turned it into a slam dunk at the other end, while drawing the foul. Frazier converted the free throw to give the Mustangs a 19-6 lead.

Things got worse for La Cañada in the third quarter, as Muir went on a 16-5 run in the eight-minute span to hold a 25-point advantage, 45-20, headed into the fourth quarter.

The Spartans began to settle down in the fourth and made the score respectable against Muir's bench.

"We had a little more composure in the fourth quarter," Hofman said. "We were too nervous early."

Conner Boyd and Jack Anderson were two bright spots for the Spartans. Boyd had a game-high 13 rebounds and eight points and Anderson finished with six rebounds and six points.

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