By Brandon HENSLEY
If nothing else, for Crescenta Valley basketball, it was a wild way to ring in the New Year, not to mention the start of Pacific League play.
Jeremy Hayes banked in a contested jump shot with three seconds left to break a tie game, and the Muir Mustangs defeated the Falcons 46-44 at John Muir High School Wednesday night.
It was an exciting conclusion to a game that was close throughout. The Falcons started slow out of the gate, caught up and held several leads, but ultimately couldn’t contain the play of Hayes, who scored a game high 27 points. He hit an assortment of shots all game long, but the last one was most impressive.
With 13 seconds left, he took the ball out of bounds and eventually got it back after he came off of several screens. CV sent several defenders at him, and Hayes launched a fadeaway jumper in front of Muir’s bench. It banked in. After a timeout, CV inbounded the ball and it went to Arin Ovanessian, who missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.
“Hayes hit a big time shot. I thought [they] did a good job defending him, I mean, we forced him onto the toughest shot possible,” said CV Head Coach Shawn Zargarian.
The Falcons (9-5, 0-1 in league) received nine points and seven assists from senior point guard Berj Krikorian. Ovanessian led the team with 21 points. No one else had more than eight points, and senior sharpshooter Kyle Currie finished with just two points, and made no shots from the field.
The Falcons struggled early. They fell behind 14-7 after one quarter after being heavily outrebounded. Hayes also wreaked havoc, getting inside the paint almost at will, scoring six points.
Zargarian lamented the lack of rebounding for his Falcon team, which is admittedly not the biggest, not after center Eric Patten graduated last year and the team lost Connor Van Ginkel this season. Van Ginkel is concentrating on finding a college to play football for next season.
“We gave up 12 to 15 offensive rebounds, half of which they probably scored on,” Zargarian said. “Rebounding is not a skill. Rebounding is an effort thing, and we were not fighting for those rebounds.”
Crescenta Valley got back into the game in the third quarter. Ovanessian scored eight points in the frame, and Muir’s trouble at the foul line didn’t help their cause. The Mustangs missed their first five free throw attempts, and seven of nine overall in the third, which led to the Falcons leading by two points going into the fourth.
“We kind of coasted into the game, down eight or nine [points] and then we decided to start playing,” Zargarian said. “If we were great this year and super talented and loaded, I‘d say come out and do that. But we’re not.”
With under a minute left, Hayes went under the basket and made a reverse layup to give the Mustangs a 44-42 lead. Ovanessian came back and drew a foul, and hit both free throws to tie it up. That set the stage for Hayes’ heroics.
The Falcons host Burroughs High School on Friday at 7 p.m., and on Monday they travel to Burbank High School and play at 6:30 p.m.