Zargarian Limps, Falcons Soar Over Pasadena

Photos by Brandon HENSLEY
Tyler Carlson played hard on Tuesday night having recently healed from knee surgery.


When a regular season game on a Tuesday night in January feels like a Friday night playoff game in February, it usually means the big dogs are in town. More specifically, the Pasadena Bulldogs, the team that wins Pacific League championships the way Meryl Streep racks up Oscar nominations.

But something happened on the way to Pasadena’s inexorable march toward another title on Tuesday at Crescenta Valley High School. The Falcon boys’ basketball team collected its most impressive win of the year in front of their frenzied fans, a 73-70 overtime thriller.

Chuck Meyer fighting for a rebound in the second half.

CV’s win pulls them even with Pasadena in league at 8-1. If both teams win out, they’ll share the championship. The last time both programs shared league was in 2014.

The Falcons came back from several small deficits in the fourth quarter, showing toughness while their head coach limped around on the sideline. Shawn Zargarian’s ruptured right Achilles, which occurred last Friday during a testy game versus Burroughs, didn’t keep him from enjoying the night. After the game, he showed his bruised foot but also displayed a big smile when talking about the last two eventful games.

“There’s something about going to Pasadena that teams in our league fear. And in my 15 years coaching, we’ve never won there,” Zargarian said. “But I think when Pasadena comes to play here, there’s something that throws them off as well.”

Indeed, last month’s 68-51 defeat at Pasadena continued the long trend of CV losing in that gym, but it’s true the Falcons play the Bulldogs tough when the location changes. Zargarian had memorable wins over Pasadena at CV in 2012 and 2013, and he can add this one to a list of games that can match those feelings.

Danny Khani vs. Pasadena

It helped that on Tuesday, CV’s Tyler Carlson was more healed from knee surgery than he was a month ago, and starting center Chuck Meyer, absent last month, played in this one.

The Bulldogs took a 65-60 lead when Devon Lewis made a spinning layup under two minutes. Carlson made two free throws next time down, and then Allen Boghossian made a three-pointer from the right side to tie the game.

In overtime, with the Falcons leading 71-70, Pasadena had the ball but, after a mad scramble where several fouls could have been called on either side, Pasadena’s Zavior Smith was called for traveling with 8.4 seconds left. Meyer got the ball and was fouled. He made both free throws, and Pasadena missed a half-court shot at the buzzer. The gymnasium, which filled up more during the fourth quarter as players and fans from CV soccer and girls’ basketball filed in, sounded off with joy.

It was a much different scene than last Tuesday when CV struggled to beat lowly Hoover at home. The Falcons played erratic and unfocused, and Zargarian took some of the blame. When Zargarian was an assistant, or when he was a younger head coach, poor performances against inferior teams meant players would run all practice until they dropped. Not so anymore.

“Amazing. We got after it,” he said of the practices after Hoover. “We just tell them practice is going to be intense and physical, and we try to get after it. That way there’s a lot of intensity.”

While the Falcons put up a solid team win, Zargarian noted how fortunate he is to have assistants DoVall Boykins, Eric Strangis and Matt Reid to help him out if he’s having a bad day or if, you know, he ruptures his Achilles.

“My assistant coaches are so good and they could coach at any high school they wanted to,” he said. “Even at the end of [tonight’s game] DoVall’s up coaching and Eric is coaching defense in the timeouts. They all have value and that’s the thing I enjoy.”

The Falcons host Burbank High on Friday at 7 p.m. At halftime, the CIF championship banners for softball, swimming and football, all titles the school has won over the past 12 months, will be unveiled.