CVHS and La Cañada Out, St. Francis and Providence Still Going Strong As Boys’ Basketball Enters Quarterfinals


The Falcons were red hot from the 3-point line in their victory over Maranatha.
Photos by Justin HAGER

By Justin HAGER

The CIF Southern Section boys’ basketball playoff picture could not have been brighter for area teams entering last week’s opening round play. The Crescenta Valley High School Falcons had finished their season 18-4 overall, an undefeated 7-0 in Pacific League play, and the champions of the Pacific League. Just down the street, La Cañada High School finished 19-8 overall, 8-2 in Rio Hondo League play and with a share of the Rio Hondo League title. And eight other area teams had earned bids including an unlikely at-large bid for the Pacific League fifth place finisher John Burroughs High School (Burbank) and a wild-card bid for John Muir High School (Pasadena).

Muir kicked off the tournament with a bang on Wednesday, Feb. 9 with a wild-card round performance that was less wild and more just mind-boggling. The Muir Mustangs had finished their season with a losing 8-16 overall record, 4-3 in league play and in fourth place in the Pacific League. They were slated to play a Mesrobian team that was in a similar position … at least on paper. Mesrobian finished their regular season 7-15 overall, and in fourth place in the International League. Both teams had the opportunity to take the first step in turning disappointing seasons into Cinderella stories as they played a one-game play-in that would earn them a spot in the first round of the CIF-SS tournament. And while both teams finished fourth in their respective leagues, the similarities ended there. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Muir demonstrated superior speed, agility, ball handling and drive as they systematically dismantled Mesrobian in an 84-16 rout that is among the largest margins of victory in modern CIF history.

First-round play kicked off on Friday night with nine area teams in the mix. Pacific League co-runner-up Pasadena fell early, losing to Coastal Canyon League runner-up Simi Valley High School 70-62. Their fellow Pacific League runner-up Arcadia joined them a few minutes later, losing by 27 points to Burbank’s Providence High School, the champion of the Prep League. Flintridge Prep also fell, losing 59-39 against Rio Mesa. As the winner of the wild-card round, Muir was the lowest seeded team in Division 4AA and was paired against the No. 1 seed Artesia High School. Despite their Cinderella aspirations, Muir also lost, 65-45.

One of the biggest games of the nights was in La Cañada where the Burroughs Bears, the lowest seeded team in Division 3A, travelled to La Cañada for an under-dog challenge to the No. 1 seeded La Cañada Spartans. Despite being heavily favored, the Spartans lost control early with Burroughs taking an early lead that they refused to surrender. The Spartans fought hard and brought it to within two points during the second quarter, and only trailed by three at the half, but the Bears’ defense was unrelenting as they knocked off the top seed by a final score of 55-45.

Excellent defense helped Burroughs upset La Cañada in round one of the CIFSS boys basketball tournament.

Down the street in La Crescenta, the CVHS Falcons were locked in a battle of their own as they hosted the Maranatha Minutemen of Pasadena. The Minutemen finished their regular season 12-14 overall and in fourth place in the Olympic League. Despite the Falcons being heavily favored, they entered the final period of play tied, 37-37.

Unfortunately for the Minutemen, the Falcons had come to win. A quick three-pointer by John Hebert and a fade-away jumper by Quinlan Daily to start the fourth period gave the Falcons a five-point lead that rapidly spiraled for the Minutemen.

Maranatha tried to answer with a volley of three-point shots but with three minutes remaining the Falcons’ lead had grown to seven. Maranatha continued to fight and closed the gap to four points with less than a minute remaining but then senior point guard Allen Boghossian came through with a pair of clutch free throws that sealed the win for CVHS.

Although CV struggled with free throws down the stretch, Allen Boghossian came through with a clutch FT to seal the Falcons victory.

After the match, CVHS Coach Shawn Zargarian said he was excited for the win but was even more excited to have fans back after playing in isolation during the omicron wave of COVID.

“It was so amazing to have fans in the gym representing our school and community,” he said. “They brought so much energy.”

Unfortunately, that home crowd energy may have been more important than he imagined. Just four nights later, on Tuesday night, CVHS lost its second-round match on the road to El Dorado High School in Placentia.

A second-round loss by Burroughs High School to Tri-Valley League champion Bishop Diego on Tuesday meant that only two area teams now remain in the CIF-SS boys’ basketball tournament. Providence High School in Burbank defeated Walnut to advance to the quarterfinals. And La Cañada’s St. Francis High School defeated Northridge’s Heritage Christian in a game that also saw senior Buckley Dejardin become the first player in St. Francis history to score 1000 career points. Dejardin sealed the victory with a free throw that gave the Golden Knights a four-point lead with only eight seconds remaining. Dejardin said that both the free throw and the career points record would not have been possible without the support of his teammates, including senior Luke McGrath, who helped calm his nerves before the free throw by reminding him that “you hit these all the time.”

After the game, Head Coach Todd Wolfson encouraged the community to keep rallying behind the Golden Knights.

“They’re a fun group to watch,” he said. “They play gritty, tough, old-school style basketball.”

St. Francis will host St. Junipero Serra Catholic School on Friday in the

quarterfinals while Providence will travel to Rancho Cucamonga to face off against the Cougars.