By Brandon HENSLEY
For the Crescenta Valley High School boys’ basketball team, the theme the past week was “playing from behind.” The boys went 3-0 starting last Friday against Muir High School, Monday vs. Burroughs and Wednesdays vs. Burbank. They trailed in all three games, looking especially sluggish in the first two, but rallied for victories to improve their record to 17-8 overall, 10-2 in the Pacific League, one game behind first place Pasadena, which they play on Friday.
Against Burroughs, who beat the Falcons in a close one last month, the team looked overmatched against Amaad Wainright, a bigger guard/forward with a penchant for outside shooting. Wainright finished with 24 points, and his play helped the Indians grab a 40-25 lead in the third quarter.
But the Falcons simply got more aggressive. Guard Eric Bae found his stroke from beyond the arc, and the Falcons not only climbed out of the deficit but ended by winning the game in convincing fashion, 66-58. Down by 15 points in the middle of the third quarter, CV closed the game on a 41-18 run.
Center Eric Patten had 23 points and 12 rebounds, including going 11-for-13 from the free-throw line, stopping his recent struggles from the charity stripe. Bae’s three 3-pointers made up nine of his 11 points, and Chris Bouchard came off the bench and scored nine points, while handling the ball for extensive minutes giving point guard Berj Krikorian a rest.
The team also looked out of sorts for most of its game at Muir last Friday, trailing by double digits in the second half, only to get things together and have an opportunity to win it late. On CV’s last possession, trailing 47-46, the play was designed to go into the post to center Eric Patten, but sophomore Arin Ovanessian, a recent junior varsity call-up, didn’t have a passing lane. He instead fired a 3-pointer that went in. The Falcons still had to defend Muir from scoring last, and Arin Pezeshkian successfully guarded the Mustangs’ Dejon Williams as his last-second 3-point attempt failed, and the Falcons pulled off a season sweep of Muir.
“For me, the best part of the Muir game was for Arin to hit that three,” Coach Shawn Zargarian said. “For a JV call-up, sophomore, with ice water in his veins to stick it … I’m sure he’ll remember that forever.”
Ovanessian said he practices both in the mornings and the afternoon, constantly working on his game, and when it comes time to take a shot like that there is no second thought.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for, so I’m going to make the most of it,” he said.
Ovanessian is part of a group consisting of Jimmy Smiley and Bouchard that have helped take the load off the starters. With rugged play and smart decision-making, these role players are a big reason why the team is still in contention for its first league title since 2004.
“Even when we’re down, like tonight (against Burbank), people were asking me after the game why I have a smile on my face,” Zargarian said. “I honestly feel like our guys have bought into the system, are prepared and understand what they need to do.”