Sylmar High learned a valuable lesson Wednesday at San Fernando: Never underestimate an opponent with nothing to lose.
The Spartans played lackadaisically and the Tigers rose up for a 61-58 victory that dropped Sylmar into a tie with Monroe atop the Valley Mission League standings.
Sylmar (13-10, 8-1 in league play) hosts Monroe (18-6, 8-1) Friday for the league title.
"They just wanted it more than us," Coach Bort Escoto of Sylmar said. "It's hard to get up for a game like this. They did, we didn't."
Senior guard Maike Hernandez scored 15 of his 24 points in the first half for San Fernando (13-9, 5-4).
John Valdez had 17 points and nine rebounds for Sylmar.
Steve Nevarez scored 10 points and his brother, Ruben, added eight for the Tigers, none more important than a three-point play that gave the Tigers a 61-55 lead with 12 seconds left.