By Brandon HENSLEY
No one will begrudge Cole Currie for taking the ball on the final play of the Falcons’ basketball game against Arcadia Thursday night and shooting it himself as the last second ticked off the clock.
But if some did, they might have a case. After all, the CV gymnasium had been decorated for Senior Appreciation Night, and Currie had to go and almost bring the entire house down.
His 3-pointer with no time left in regulation gave the Falcons a 69-68 victory over the Apaches, setting off a wild celebration for the CV fans that filled up most of the gym, and leaving the Arcadia fans heartbroken and on the wrong end of another close battle between the schools.
It was just another dramatic chapter added to a rivalry that has heated up the chilly winter nights in recent years.
“With the Arcadia game, the record doesn’t matter, league standings don’t matter – nothing matters except we’re out to get each other,” said CV Coach Shawn Zargarian. “We could’ve beaten them by 50 points the first time and I would have expected the same [level of play]. I tip my hat off to Arcadia … they did a great job but our guys played when it mattered.”
With CV trailing in the fourth quarter 66-63, Currie hit a 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds left. But on the next play, they didn’t have an answer for Arcadia’s Kiran Koneru, who nailed a midrange shot from the right side with just over seven seconds to go.
After a timeout, the Falcons inbounded the ball and went full court, where Currie got the ball and drove to the left side. He seemed to prepare to pass, but slipped a little. That’s when he decided to step back beyond the 3-point line and bury the shot
Currie finished with 14 points (including four 3-pointers) and junior forward Christian Misi had 21 points.
The Falcons (20-7, 12-2 in Pacific League) swept the season series from Arcadia (12-14, 6-8) and are now looking toward the playoffs, which begin next week. Zargarian said the seeding will be announced on Sunday, and that he expects his team to draw a home game.
The night started out strong for the Falcons, as they raced out to a 15-5 lead. Of their first six shots, the Falcons made five within the first three minutes of play, led by junior guard Dylan Kilgour who had two 3-pointers in the quarter.
But at halftime, Arcadia had closed the gap to 35-32.
Koneru played well throughout (he had a game-high 27 points), displaying bursts of emotion after some of his baskets. Arcadia’s Robert Haines also stepped up, scoring 25 points.
In the third quarter, Arcadia switched up from a man defense to a 2-3 zone, putting pressure on the ball and causing turnovers for CV. Junior center Rudy Avila scored 10 points in the period, as the Falcons made a concerted effort to go inside.
“When they went into that zone for a little while it disturbed what we were trying to do,” Zargarian said. “Luckily it didn’t bother enough that the game got out of control but it did disrupt us for a little. But anytime that it felt like we were getting a little out of control we managed to make plays to get it back so we could win the game.”
Both teams exchanged leads throughout the second half, and Arcadia held a 63-58 lead with just over two minutes left.
“They kept coming –every time we fought they kept coming back,” said Currie.
Despite his heroics, Currie was mostly silent in the middle quarters. But he said crunch time brought him alive.
“[Into the fourth] got me going; I got back into it.”
On the last shot, Currie said he knew the ball was going in once it left his hands.
Before and after the game, seniors, Jay Choi, Daniel Goldsworthy, Chris Chemlekian, Nick Kelly, Oshin Mahmoodian, Vinny Espinoza were recognized for their hard work during their run in the basketball program.
Now, it’s on to next week, where a new season starts.
“This team genuinely supported each other. There is no ‘I’ in this team,” said Zargarian. “To the senior parents I say thank you for your support and to the players I say keep it rolling.”