El Toro will be here on Friday to play CV in the quarterfinals after Falcons get by Warren Tuesday night.
By Brandon HENSLEY
The dagger came from the right wing toward the end of the third quarter Tuesday in front of the Warren High student band. It had been a back and forth affair up until then, both the Bears and the Falcons trading blows and eschewing a fast-pace tempo in favor of a slower, more deliberate half-court game.
But then the Falcons started to break out, and with a minute left in the third, guard Cole Currie rose up beyond the arc and drained a 3-pointer that officially put the Falcons in the middle of a run that would be the end of the Bears.
Currie’s shot made it 46-37, part of a 12-0 run in the second half that gave CV the boost it needed to win its second playoff game in the Southern Section Division 1A playoffs this past week, 67-55 over host Warren High School (19-10). With last week’s win over Colton in the first round and now Tuesday’s victory, the Falcons are onto the quarterfinals, a place they haven’t been since 2001.
After the game Coach Shawn Zargarian talked about the game’s pace.
“A couple things we stressed to our guys: one was playing at our pace. I think we were playing way too fast [early on],” he said. “The other thing we did a better job of was switching defensively and keeping their guys out of the paint and out of penetration.”
They did a much better job in the second half against Warren’s guards. Junior guard Joseph Campos, who looked shorter than his 5-foot-8 profile says, caused havoc against the Falcons in the first half. He scored seven points and managed to create space not just for himself but for his teammates as well.
“A part of it was our defensive communication breaking down,” Zargarian said. But Campos only converted one field goal in the second half. The Bears’ Lorel Johnson was the high scorer for his team with 12 points, and teammate Ife Kalejaiye finished with 11.
Forward Davis Dragovich was asked what his team had to do to pull away.
“Just be more active,” he said. “When we come out and we run our stuff and our guards are hitting their shots like they are, we have no problem giving them the ball if they’re hot.”
The Falcons (25-4) are confident, but Tuesday was another close game they found themselves in from the outset. They led 17-15 after one quarter and 29-28 at the half. Dragovich supplied the scoring in the second quarter, racking up eight points. He finished with 17 overall, which helped overcome the lack of scoring by other post players Christian Misi and Rudy Avila (six points and four points, respectively).
Zargarian wasn’t high on Dragovich’s play early. He said he got angry with him because he felt Dragovich was talking to the referees too much.
“Davis came out in the second much more focused,” he said.
But it wasn’t just Dragovich who played well. Forward Elliot Wilson started again – a move Zargarian began making toward the end of the season – and while he didn’t score, he grabbed seven rebounds and helped run the offense without much problem.
Then there was guard Dylan Kilgour. He got into foul trouble on Friday against Colton, and his only points came on a layup in the fourth quarter. But Tuesday he was in top form. He scored 19 points, including five 3-pointers.
“We always joke with Dylan, any time he has a slow game, he always comes back with a great one and he had a great one tonight. That’s just who he is,” Zargarian said.
“After halftime we started to slow the ball down and control the tempo, and we ran our plays and that’s when I got my shots,” Kilgour said.
In the end, it was the guard play that carried CV. Currie had 15 points and six assists, and is averaging 18 points per game in the playoffs.
Home for One More
CV is home Friday night at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal game against the El Toro Chargers from Orange County. El Toro is 23-8 after they defeated Huntington Beach in their second round playoff game Tuesday, 76-48.
Falcons’ fans recently saved its best support for rivalry games against Arcadia and Pasadena, but this is the playoffs.
“It’s exciting playing at home. We have really good fans. I’m sure everyone’s going to come out for the game,” Kilgour said.
“For our seniors, we’ve been playing together so long,” Dragovich said. “It’s fun to have one more home game.”