Crescenta Valley boys' basketball falls in thriller to visiting Muir
Reigning Pacific League MVP Jelani Mitchell of Muir hits a game-winner three-pointer with .8 seconds left.
CV's Nick Springer, left, drives toward Muir defender Jelani Mitchell. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer / January 25, 2013)
Currie rightly deserved the praise as the senior drained two three-pointers within a nine-second stretch to send Friday evening’s Pacific League boys’ basketball contest versus visiting Muir into overtime.
Yet, what the crowd didn’t realize is that their shouting would bring about an answer from the reigning Pacific League MVP, Muir’s Jelani Mitchell.
The 6-foot-5 senior swingman hit a step-back three-pointer with less than a second remaining to deliver the Mustangs an equally thrilling and important 60-59 overtime victory.
“[Muir Coach Simaine Stewart] just wanted me to go. When I got the ball, I was kind of far from the basket and there were only six seconds left,” said Mitchell, who finished with 26 points and five rebounds.
“But I got a little space on them, I stepped back and I hit the three.”
The victory thrusts Muir (14-9 overall, 7-2 in league) back into the Pacific League hunt as the Mustangs now trail both Crescenta Valley (17-5, 8-1) and 10-time defending champion Pasadena (15-5, 8-1) by a game.
Mitchell was given the inbounds pass with 6.3 seconds left about 30 feet out with his team trailing, 59-57, when he crossed over and raced to the arc, only to step back and drain about a 22-foot shot.
The Mustangs’ bench stormed the court after the make, before the officials had to clear out the group.
Crescenta Valley had called timeout with .8 seconds remaining and did have a final 60-foot heave that sailed wide left moments after.
“We finally got a quality win. This is the first time all year I had my entire team together from injuries and transfers and other things,” Stewart said. “We overcame a lot tonight with injuries and a foul out, this was big.”
Mitchell’s shot brought finality for the Mustangs, who had already lost forward Taturs Mayberry to five fouls, had a gimpy Mitchell and were without guard Dejon Williams, who injured his ankle earlier in the game.
Finality, though, was not easy for the Falcons.
“This is the third time this has happened to us here,” Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian said. “We had a two-point loss to Oak Park on a missed layup, a two-point loss to Brentwood on a buzzer-beating three and then a one-point loss to Muir. It’s hard, it’s hard to find words to comfort them.”
Prior to the Mitchell’s shot, it seemed like Currie (18 points and eight rebounds) was the game’s hero as the senior hit a three-pointer with 12.5 seconds left in regulation to pull the Falcons within 52-50.
Crescenta Valley immediately fouled and Muir’s Jamir Jenkins connected on one of two free throws to put the Mustangs up, 53-50, with 12.1 seconds left.
The Falcons, though, again showed tremendous faith in Currie, who rewarded his team’s belief with another triple with five seconds left that sent the game into overtime.
“We’re going to put the ball in Cole’s hands whether he’s one for 10 or 10 for 10,” Zargarian said of Currie, who was one for 12 before his clutch three-pointers. “He’s made big shots all season long.”
Other than Mitchell, only Jenkins (12 points) scored in double figures for Muir.
Senior Kris Jaborian added 14 points for the Falcons.
“This has happened to us so many times and we just have to get through it,” Jaborian said. “I can say one thing after tonight, nobody wants a piece of us.”