Summer league basketball has CVHS staying competitive despite the sometimes absence of key players.
By Brandon HENLSEY
These are the days when the scores don’t matter, player statistics aren’t important and most of the coaches can be seen wearing cargo shorts and T-shirts.
But while the summer league of high school basketball has a much more relaxed approach as opposed to the regular season, the CV Falcons varsity boys’ team has treated it like a preview of what’s about to come once the games count.
Maybe that’s not a completely true statement going by the last weeks’ worth of games, as CV completed its sixth-place finish out of 12 teams in the Vaquero Classic at Glendale College. Book-ending two solid victories, the Falcons lost the opener of the tournament to Grant High on July 7, 60-53, and to Burbank 56-46 on Sunday.
“We weren’t super sharp this weekend,” said Assistant Coach Matt Reid who coached the team on Sunday because of other obligations that Head Coach Shawn Zargarian had.
But the Falcons were without seniors Christian Misi and Rudy Avila all weekend, and didn’t have senior Davis Dragovich for a game and junior Cole Currie for two games. Each player, projected to be starters during the season, was playing for their respective travel ball teams.
The same could be said for Tuesday night’s game at Burbank against Renaissance Academy, when the Falcons were without all of the aforementioned players. The Falcons overcame a large second half deficit thanks to the playmaking of senior Tade Keshishyan and the shooting of Dylan Kilgour, but fell in overtime 64-61.
So that’s the small picture. The big picture? CV is 27-8 for the summer with two games remaining. The Falcons won tournaments in Maranatha and Moorpark and reached the final in a San Diego tournament. And of course, if the team isn’t winning games this week, at least other players are getting more experience.
Keshishyan, senior David Lyons and juniors Kris Jabourian and Elliot Wilson all received valuable minutes in the Vaquero Classic.
“They’re doing a really good job,” said Reid. “I keep trying to remind them it’s going to be so important during league or during the regular season that you never know when your opportunity is going to come because we could have a game where we have injuries or foul trouble and you’re going to be coming off that bench … and you always have to be prepared. I think they’ve done a good job all summer [at] kind of figuring out what their role is off the bench.”
Keshishyan has emerged this summer as a reliable defensive player, one who can pick up the other team’s point guard full court and force turnovers.
“Some of the better guys in our league, Tade is going to have to get up on them,” Reid said.
But Keshishyan has also shown ball handling skills and a nice shooting touch. When CV needed late baskets on Tuesday, he was there to slice through the lane and get layups.
Currie played the final two games of the Vaquero Classic. His presence in a 49-46 win against St. Francis was undeniable. He provided relief when the offense was either too frenetic or too stagnant; he was there to take matters into his own hands by backing down defenders or taking them off the dribble.
Currie is long and athletic; at one point against St. Francis, he was outnumbered coming down the court but deftly avoided a charging foul and banked in a left-handed layup.
Then there was Dragovich, the player Zargarian said in June would be one to look out for. Dragovich played the final three games in Glendale and the effects were noticeable with him on the court.
Dragovich is 6 feet 3, but is good enough to guard smaller players on the perimeter. On Friday, he was knocked back on his heels by an elbow but recovered in time to block the shot on a baseline drive. Former Falcon coach John Goffredo was watching the game and yelled for Dragovich to post up as the game went on. Finally Dragovich did so, spinning into the lane and finishing with his left hand. His other post moves later on were also effective.
“We were good last year but this summer shows that we’re going to be that much better,” Dragovich said on Sunday.
He said he’s improved his ball handling and guard skills this summer, but also said the team, not just him, has improved.
“We’ve been playing with each other for so long, it’s starting to show, so it’s not like what I’ve been doing personally, it’s what we’ve been doing as a group,” he said.
Another thing he’s working on: “Just trying to be a leader out there, because I’m a senior now so I have to be the senior presence.”
Dragovich will be a part of an all-senior front line, so leadership won’t be an issue.
Misi, an All-League forward, can also play well around the perimeter, so size and athleticism is something opposing teams will have to deal with again.
The Falcons end their summer session Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Burbank High School. Win or lose, it seems like they’ve learned a lot.