By Brandon HENSLEY
The differences are always striking in the summertime. Players grow their hair out, or simply grow. Faces mature, arms get bigger and new guys are asked to prove themselves worthy of playing time once the real season begins months from now.
All of that has been on display this month for the Crescenta Valley High School varsity basketball team. In a just a few short months since the season ended, senior Gabriel Ajemian looks much more physically imposing, with more upper body definition and longer hair. Journey Shank, a junior, keeps stretching vertically, or maybe that’s just his ever-growing hi-top talking.
Trey Ballard, a key member of last year’s JV squad, is logging heavy minutes, handling the ball and hitting shots from the corner, trying to impress his new coaches as much as he can.
As it is every summer, Coach Shawn Zargarian is trying to see where all of the puzzles pieces might go once fall comes around.
“We’re kind of out of sorts as far as being comfortable with what their roles are,” he said, noting that the team no longer has experienced guards Berj Krikorian and Kyle Currie for leadership.
The Falcons were 7-5 this summer before their Wednesday night game against Campbell Hall. They had their six-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday in a loss to Hart 53-38 at Burbank High School. Last week, they concluded a successful tournament at Glendale College, winning all four games.
The main leadership role should go to Arin Ovanessian, the Falcons’ best player last year. He’s currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. Other players who have varsity experience, such as Shank and guard Tadeh Taverdians, could step up in multiple ways. Taverdians’ ball-handling and shooting played a big role in helping the team go 10-4 in the Pacific League last year.
“Tadeh does what he does. The only thing I would like to see [of] Tadeh is more vocal leadership,” Zargarian said. “That’s what we’re lacking. And then Journey I think is coming into his own. We still get upset with him on the defensive end, maybe he’s not scrappy enough. But his game has come such a long way. His shooting is better, he’s getting to the rim … he’s going to make that big jump from his sophomore season.”
The Falcons play two games Friday at Heritage Christian, at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. They are back at Burbank High on Tuesday against Valencia at 2:30 p.m.