The transition from high school football to basketball is difficult to make. The season starts in early December and who’s thinking about it then? The playoffs are in full swing and everybody still has football on their minds.
There are several December tournaments but they are usually played before half empty gymnasiums at odd times.
You really don’t start noticing it until mid December, after the football season has officially ended, but then the holidays are here and hoops gets put on hold until after the New Year.
Actually it’s still football season in January as local players begin to make their verbal commitments to college and coaches announce that they are either stepping down or changing schools.
It seems another basketball season is going to go by without any memorable moments…and then something like Friday night happens. The Pasadena-Muir game Friday night at Pasadena High School proved a couple of things. Number one, it proved that there really is good basketball played in the San Gabriel Valley and number two – people actually do care.
They have always played good basketball in Pasadena – the Bulldogs have won nine consecutive Pacific League titles. But sometimes that gets forgotten in the high school football San Gabriel Valley.
The place was packed. I had to park two blocks away and I got there an hour early. I’d say it was standing room only but there wasn’t any standing room. The girls played first and the gym was filled to capacity for that game in anticipation of the main event.
There must have been a hundred fans milling around outside wondering how they were going to get it in. The cold fact was that they weren’t going to. There were no seats.
So this is what high school basketball is all about, I thought as I first walked inside. The atmosphere was electric, and you literally had to scream at the person next to you just to be heard.
The security guard tried unsuccessfully to get a few students, reporters and photographers that were standing at the South end of the gym to find seats. I had this exchange with him early in the first quarter.
Security yelling: “You need to find a seat!”
Me yelling back: “There are no seats!”
Security yelling: “Well, you can’t stand here!”
Me yelling back: “I’m a reporter!”
Guard yelling: “OK well find a seat up in the middle there somewhere!” as he pointed toward the stands.
“Ok,” I said. I didn’t feel like sitting on somebody’s lap so I moved to the other side of the gym where I stood and covered the game.
As for the game itself it was worthy of the hype. Pasadena was a slight favorite coming in. Muir had the better record but Pasadena had played a tougher schedule and the home court advantage. Although as the game wore on, it was evident that the Muir contingent was just as big as Pasadena’s.
Both teams have players that showed why they will play at the next level. In a fast paced affair Muir’s Andre Frazier threw down a vicious dunk in the first quarter that sent the crown into a frenzy. Pasadena’s Blake Hamilton had a couple of slick no look passes that electrified the crowd.
Muir led by seven at the half, before Pasadena took a two point lead at the end of three. Ultimately Muir hit some big free throws down the stretch and despite having two players foul out, the Mustangs escaped with a 64-60 victory.
In the fourth quarter Pasadena went away from Bandon Jolley, who was dominant in the post with 14 points in the first three quarters, and the Bulldogs came up short.
Muir fans rushed the court when the final buzzer sounded. Players and coaches hugged, fans celebrated, and cheerleaders wept. And the feeling prevailed. Yes high school basketball can be exciting.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.