The Fight to the Top

Photos by Lydia LOU Gabriel Ajemian hauled in seven rebounds and nine second-half points Jan. 30 vs Burroughs.
Photos by Lydia LOU
Gabriel Ajemian hauled in seven rebounds and nine second-half points Jan. 30 vs Burroughs.

By Brandon HENSLEY

With one week remaining in the regular season, it looks to be a three-team race once again for Pacific League supremacy in boys’ varsity basketball. Only this time, the third team in question does not reside in Altadena, but rather off the 2 Freeway on Broadway 10 minutes south of La Crescenta.

Yep, the Glendale Nitros – not the Muir Mustangs – are in contention for a league championship. Since losing to the Falcons on Jan. 20, Glendale has put together four straight wins, including an impressive 65-55 win over Pasadena last week.

That means the Nitros were tied with Pasadena as of Wednesday night with a league record of 8-2. Crescenta Valley, which played Pasadena on Wednesday (scores were not available at time of press), was third, a game behind at 7-3.

Pasadena and CV shared the league title last year. Depending on the outcomes of Wednesday’s games, the Falcons could be in position to win another title if they win out (they would have split with Pasadena, and they’ve already beaten Glendale once) or they could be looking to settle for second or third place, which would still get them into the CIF playoffs.

Crescenta Valley has had a nice showing for a couple of weeks since losing a heartbreaker against Pasadena in January, when the Bulldogs’ Tyreke Adams tipped in a go-ahead basket with seconds left to cap off a nine-point fourth quarter comeback.

Since then the Falcons (16-7 overall) have won six straight games after starting the league season 1-3. They beat Burroughs last Friday in a game that had to feel good for everyone on the Falcons’ side. In the teams’ first matchup, CV point guard Berj Krikorian sprained his ankle in the first quarter and did not come back. Coach Shawn Zargarian was furious at the referees all night (he was given a technical foul for blatantly not moving off of the court at one point) and both teams committed some hard fouls. Burroughs’ fans did not like the style, and they and Coach Adam Hochberg reveled in beating up the Falcons by 20 points.

But last week the Falcons withstood a Burroughs comeback and won 67-55. CV forward Arin Ovanessian scored 22 points and had six rebounds and guard Tadeh Taverdians hit five 3-pointers.

Arin Ovanessian averaged 21 points against both Burbank schools this past week. Both games were Falcon victories.
Arin Ovanessian averaged 21 points against both Burbank schools this past week. Both games were Falcon victories.

Most notably, it was Hochberg’s turn to be apoplectic to the referees, along with the traveling Burroughs fans. While Zargarian stayed calm as his team pulled away, Hochberg became more enraged as the fourth quarter went on over the amount of fouls called against the Indians (CV shot 12 free throws in the frame compared to Burroughs’ one). A Burroughs fan stood up and waved dollar bills toward the referees, and Hochberg, who earned a technical foul earlier, sarcastically clapped near the scorer’s table as the seconds counted down. He and Zargarian barely touched hands in line afterward and Hochberg didn’t make eye contact.

The Falcons took it to Burbank High School on Monday. They didn’t rebound the ball on the offensive end very well, and everyone’s shot seemed to be off, but it didn’t matter because Burbank couldn’t hold on to the ball.

CV’s press defense stifled the Bulldogs from the second quarter on, as the Falcons converted turnover after turnover into easy baskets. The Falcons trailed 15-12 after one quarter but then turned on the pressure. They took the lead and led by 12 points at halftime and 17 points after three quarters. Ovanessian had 20 points and five rebounds. Journey Shank and Taverdians each had nine points and Kyle Currie scored eight points.

The Falcons play Friday at Hoover High School at 7 p.m. before hosting Glendale on Tuesday at
5 p.m.

Football Banner Unveiled
At halftime on Monday, coaches and players from the Falcons varsity football team were honored at midcourt with standing ovations for their undefeated season. Then attention was turned to the west wall, where the team’s CIF championship banner was unveiled. As the players climbed the steps to take pictures in front of it, Van Halen’s “Top of the World” played from the sound system. It is the football program’s second CIF title, and the Crescenta Valley High School’s 18th overall.

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