By Brandon HENSLEY
Last summer, the Crescenta Valley High School basketball program went through some growing pains when it played its first games without a core group of starters that had taken the team to the CIF Division 1A semifinals.
This summer, it’s not the same, but it sort of is, if that makes sense.
The Falcons, who once again are coming off a CIF semifinal appearance in February, don’t have Pacific League co-MVP Cole Currie anymore – he graduated. They also don’t have versatile guard/forward Nick Springer – he’s transferring next year to Maranatha High School.
Life without Currie was to be expected, but the past month brought about the Springer news, and the program has had to adjust. Springer was, after all, going to be the key for a CV team that many media members thought could win league next year.
As it is, CV seems to be okay for now. The Falcons won their second game of a tournament at Crespi High School on Wednesday 57-47 against Brentwood, improving their summer record to 3-2. They lost Tuesday’s tournament game to Royal High School 66-63.
“It’s hard for me because I want to be really good right now, but we’ve only played five games,” said Coach Shawn Zargarian, who lamented his team’s ball handling and defense against Royal.
He said Wednesday’s defense effort was much better. CV pulled away in the third quarter, scoring 18 points and holding Brentwood to just eight.
“With a team that’s young and inexperienced, you want to make sure you’re getting better every game,” he said.
The Falcons are using a scheme where they will try to “shrink” the floor against opposing offenses, meaning more defenders will slide over to the ball to help the man guarding the ball.
Last month, Zargarian said his team would try the change in part because of Springer leaving. A body like Springer’s – 6’4” with long arms – sure would be nice to have on the boards, though.
CV’s summer roster is loaded with players you wouldn’t call “big,” save for center Eric Patten.
“Honestly, I haven’t really thought about it,” Zargarian said about losing Springer. “He was one person that could have done a lot, but now we have three or four guys that can do it.”
Offensively, it looks like it will be a three-man attack with junior point guard Berj Krikorian, Patten and Kevin Dinges, who was a transfer from Renaissance Academy and played on the Falcons’ junior varsity squad last year.
“He’s good. He’s really good … his skill set is really good,” Zargarian said.
Dinges is a starter this summer, and probably will be once the season gets going in the fall. On one play Wednesday, he received a pass from Patten on the baseline and drove in and finished a layup over two defenders. It was the sort play Springer used to make, but well, you get the picture.
Krikorian is looking to be more aggressive on offense. Through the first five games this summer, he’s looking for his shot more, and most importantly, is knocking it down. His first basket on Wednesday was a straight-on 3-pointer that was well behind the line.
He simply would not have taken that shot last season, in part because there were others on the team that were better suited to do it.
“We knew Berj could handle the ball,” Zargarian said. “He could get to the rim. We always questioned his shot-making ability.”
Zargarian said Krikorian has worked hard on his shot and is now someone defenders absolutely have to pay attention to. Krikorian unofficially recorded 13 points on Wednesday. Junior Tadeh Taverdians also knocked down several long-range shots that pleased Zargarian.
CV plays today at 5:15 p.m. at Burbank High School, and Friday through Sunday at Chaminade High School in another tournament. For the full schedule, visit the boys’ basketball link at cvhsfalcons.com.