By Brandon HENSLEY
The Crescenta Valley High School boys’ basketball team went 1-1 this past week, falling to Pasadena on Friday 65-57 and winning at Hoover on Tuesday 68-43.
Junior guard Kyle Currie scored 25 points on seven 3-pointers on Tuesday, as the Falcons improved their season record to 11-8, and 4-2 in a Pacific League where it seems anything can happen. It would appear Crescenta Valley will a get breather from tough competition this Friday when it hosts Arcadia (0-6 in league) at 7 p.m., but then the back-end of the league schedule starts up next week, and if the first part was any indication, it will be unpredictable. Here are several observations from the season so far:
What to like so far: Several good players who have been thorns in the Falcons’ side for a while have graduated and moved on, and this appears to be a Pacific League that’s not at the height of its power currently. But give credit to the Falcons for hanging in there anyway. They’ve also lost good players this year in Nick Springer and Kevin Dinges, not due to graduation but for personal or philosophical reasons for both the boys and their families.
Because reserve players Jimmy Smiley, Chris Bouchard and now JV call-up Arin Ovanessian play like their lives depend on each possession with hustle and grit, the Falcons don’t back down from anyone and Coach Shawn Zargarian has to be proud of the effort given every game.
Center Eric Patten is doing a fine job down low. At 6’ 6” and over 200 pounds, he’s one of the biggest bodies in league and now that he’s healthy this year (injuries have sidelined him before) he’s putting up about 19 points and 10 rebounds a game. Which, some might say, is what he should be doing, but where would they be without him?
What not to like so far: A question was posed to Zargarian after Currie’s great performance on Tuesday: Who is the better shooter, Kyle or his older brother Cole who played all four years on varsity for Zargarian and is a freshman on the Tulane University basketball team?
It’s an understandable question considering the family ties, but both players are very different. If you compare current Falcon shooters to recent ones, the gold standard is Dylan Kilgour, and it’s not even close. Kilgour, who is playing for Macalester College in Minnesota, was a part of teams that always seemed to have enough firepower from the outside. Even last year without Kilgour, guys consistently made shots to break the backs of opponents (except in the 68-38 CIF semi-final loss to El Toro. There is practically no explanation for that one).
This year’s squad has players fully capable of lighting it up in Currie, Arin Pezeshkian and Eric Bae, but overall they aren’t consistent enough.
Which is fine. Shooting takes days off. The effort is always there, and whether this is correct or not, Zargarian actually seems a little bit calmer during the games this season, less likely to get upset at mistakes. Perhaps he appreciates the effort his guys are giving. Again, defense is the key; the Falcons are 4-0 in league when they hold their opponents to under 60 points, and 0-2 when they don’t, including a loss to first-place Burroughs when they gave up 82 points. Among the contenders in league, which are Burroughs, Pasadena, Muir, Burbank and Crescenta Valley, it’s the Falcons who have given up the least amount of points.
Anything else? Watch Connor Van Ginkel on the football field and then watch him on the basketball court, and you’ll swear you’re watching a different person. Van Ginkel is a smooth operator in helmet and pads, catching balls and scoring touchdowns almost at ease. Take the pads off and put him under a basket, and he transforms into an elbow-flying, hard screen-setting enforcer who rarely puts any crooked numbers below “points scored” in the box score.
This, however, could be trouble at some point. Van Ginkel sometimes plays a little too chippy. He and Burroughs’ star player Rashid Ewing got into it physically and verbally a couple weeks ago, and both were assessed technical fouls. Also very subtly, Bae has a knack for getting under the skin of an opponent. In a rematch against Pasadena or Burroughs, or against an unfamiliar team in the playoffs, perhaps events could go the wrong way for the Falcons, in terms of technical fouls or injuries due to unnecessary plays. Or it could mean the Falcons like to mix it up and for them to win, they’ve needed to show more muscle than in the past.
Or it could mean nothing. The second half of the season awaits.