By Brandon HENSLEY
The Crescenta Valley High School boys’ basketball team entered Wednesday night’s game against Pasadena still searching for its footing in the Pacific League, in more ways than one.
The Falcons went to Burbank High School on Monday and beat the Bulldogs 78-59, their first league win in three tries, and did it without the services of senior point guard Berj Krikorian, who sustained a sprained right ankle against the Burroughs Indians on Jan. 9.
Krikorian went down near the Burroughs bench in the first quarter and did not return. He was in a boot for Monday’s game and supported his teammates from the bench.
“It has very light swelling, which is good. That’s the hardest thing to get out,” said Head Coach Shawn Zargarian. “The hope is Friday he’ll be ready to go.”
The Falcons host Hoover High School on Friday at 7 p.m.
Zargarian said Krikorian thought he heard a crack when he went down. It turned out to not be the case. Krikorian went to the hospital after the game and no break showed up.
Without Krikorian against Burroughs, the Falcons were overmatched. They shot poorly from the field and the Indians pulled away in the second half for a 73-53 win. Against Burbank, CV jumped out to a quick lead, led by 10 points at the half and didn’t have any trouble the rest of the way. Senior shooting guard Kyle Currie led with 25 points, including six makes from beyond the arc. He scored 17 points in the second half.
Arin Ovanessian contributed 17 points and Gabriel Ajemian added 13 points.
Zargarian has gone with several starting lineups this year, and the Falcons (10-6, 1-2 in league as of Wednesday) are using more defensive sets and less offensive ones so far.
“We’re trying different rotations … we’re undersized at times. We’re kind of playing around a little bit,” he said.
The Falcons trapped Burbank out of their zone defense in the second half, which was successful. After Currie stole the ball at midcourt and converted a layup, the lead swelled to 20 points in the third quarter, a comfort CV hasn’t enjoyed much so far this year. In all, Burbank committed 21 turnovers to CV’s 11.
Currie was cold from the field in his team’s first two league losses, which included one to Muir High School. He didn’t register a field goal against Muir and was just three of 12 against Burroughs. Against Burbank he made eight shots in 13 attempts.
“Without Berj we’re not able to run as many sets offensively, which we’ll work on … We’re trying to just push the tempo, be more aggressive and get to the free throw line,” Zargarian said.
Free throws contributed to the win on Monday. The Falcons made 21 of 30 free throw attempts. Making things happen and getting to the line could be crucial all season. Aside from Currie, the Falcons don’t have a true outside shooter that would put fear into the opposing team. Ovanessian could certainly be that player, but Zargarian said his team doesn’t run any plays for him specifically, so those shots have to come organically. In terms of having consistent shooters like the Falcons have had in the recent past (Dylan Kilgour, Kris Jabourian, Eric Bae), it isn’t the same.
Then again, CV, the reigning league champion, isn’t as big as it used to be either. Ajemian and Ovanessian are only juniors and both can make things happen around the basket. Ovanessian received critical minutes on varsity last year and made some clutch baskets, and Ajemian is the smoothest player on the court. In terms of power, though, they’re no Eric Patten, last year’s center and co-league player of the year.
“I coach how I coach,” Zargarian said. “I coach hard, I make sure we play hard, make sure we’re disciplined, make sure we execute and do things the right way.”
Executing and doing things the right way was harder than it looked in the loss to Burroughs. Play between both teams became chippy. Zargarian was visibly unhappy with the officiating all night, and was given a technical foul for standing on the court during a Burroughs free throw attempt, pretty much daring the official to issue it.
“They kicked our butt, plain and simple,” Zargarian said of Burroughs.
Aside from that, after the Falcons gave a hard foul to Burroughs in the second half, Indians fans voiced their displeasure. Zargarian signaled down to Burroughs Coach Adam Hochberg that the play was unintentional. Hochberg looked like he didn’t want to hear any of it and waved Zargarian off.
“I trying to apologize to him for the foul I thought was hard,” Zargarian said. After the game, both coaches talked and seemed to iron it out. It wasn’t exactly a love fest, though.
“I don’t know if [we’re] cool. It is what it is,” Zargarian said. “The good thing is we get to play them again. It gets competitive, guys get chippy.”