By Brandon HENSLEY
Maybe this one should have been played with peach baskets.
It was retro kind of game Wednesday night at CV High, as the Falcons and Pasadena Bulldogs boys basketball team met in a matchup of unbeaten Pacific League teams.
The Falcons are unbeaten in league no more, though, as senior guard Todd Lewis hit the jumper in the lane with 2.4 seconds left in regulation to give the Bulldogs a 39-37 victory.
The win was an ugly one for the Bulldogs (10-6, 4-0 in league), although they’ll take the result much more than CV (11-6, 4-1).
Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian didn’t have too many words for how his team could lose a game like this.
“You hold a team in the 30s at the varsity level and not pull out a W?” he said incredulously.
The Falcons had scored over 60 points in each of their last five games.
The story of the game was turnovers. The Falcons committed 17 of them. Sophomore point guard Cole Currie seemed to struggle with whatever pressure Pasadena put on him. But it wasn’t just him. Falcon players routinely passed the ball blindly into traffic, or had it swatted out of their hands on other possessions.
“I have to do a better job of bringing the ball up and getting into the offense and I did a poor job of that and it showed out there,” said Currie, who finished with seven points on a rather cold shooting night.
“A typical Pasadena team is up full-court, trapping and pressing,” said Zargarian. “They didn’t do that. They just got up and manned us a little bit and got up on us. We didn’t screen, and we didn’t execute.”
CV’s other key player, junior forward Christian Misi, didn’t score until the third quarter. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
“We count on Cole and Christian to make plays and neither one of them were able to make plays and that falls on the shoulders of our entire team not executing, not screening, not getting to the right spots,” said Zargarian.
It was only a 6-5 Falcons lead after one quarter. The score was tied at 14 at halftime. Clearly, a shootout would not be taking place.
CV seemed to take control in the third when junior guard Dylan Kilgour converted a four-point play after being fouled while making a 3-pointer, putting the Falcons up 22-20. The lead was six soon after, which at that point may have seemed insurmountable.
Pasadena’s leading scorer was their guard Austin Daniels with 12 points. But most of his points came at the free-throw line. The Falcons played off of him considerably, as to not let him get penetration down low.
“Our defense did a pretty good job,” said Zargarian. “We did a good job contesting. I don’t think they missed a lot of open shots. We did a good job defensively, but we didn’t execute on offense. We did not get good looks offensively.”
Mainly because the ball was going in the other direction most of the time.
“Seventeen turnovers isn’t going to win a lot of games,” Currie said.
With just over a minute to go, Misi hit a turnaround jumper from the left side to tie the game at 37. But the Falcons couldn’t secure a missed shot by Pasadena, and the ball went out of bounds. The Bulldogs retained possession. It went to Lewis, and he nailed the dagger.
“[Lewis] is obviously a three-year varsity basketball player,” Zargarian said. “He got the ball and made a great play. Good players make good plays and he made it at the end of the game.”
To his teammates delight, and probably not to the CV fans, Lewis did a quick dance afterward at halfcourt.
The Falcons still own a 3-1 record in league, but it gets tougher from here. They will play Friday at Muir High School, the start of three straight road games. The Mustangs were unbeaten in league as of Wednesday night.
“This will be a good test for our team to see how we handle adversity and where we are as far as toughness,” Zargarian said.
Cole said all he was thinking about was Friday’s game, and that’s all they can do. The entire team looked crestfallen as it walked out of the locker room after the game. They don’t play Pasadena again until Feb. 1.
“We’ll see them again and we’ll have another shot at them at their place,” said Currie.