First published in the Jan. 22 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
This season’s race for the Pacific League boys’ basketball title was supposed to be a marathon, with all the schools playing each other once before being separated into two tiers. Therefore, theoretically there was the prospect of playing the top competition twice to get to the finish line.
However, COVID’s Omicron variant and its effect on the scheduling has altered the route. Now it’s turned into a sprint, with the league championship being awarded at the conclusion of one round of competition.
This meant Crescenta Valley High, freshly back on the court after a COVID-induced pause, was now on the backstretch as the Falcons went on the road and tried to remain undefeated in league play against Hoover High.
Crescenta Valley gave up a huge lead at Hoover, but executed in crunch time to pull out a 59-52 victory Tuesday night in Pacific League action.
“I would love to make excuses and say we haven’t played in 21 days, we were shut down for 10 days, the rust and all that, but, to be completely honest, I thought Hoover completely outplayed us tonight,” CV coach Shawn Zargarian said. “I think they played with a lot more will and purpose than we did. We were fortunate that we were able to make some shots down the stretch and make a couple stops. That was the reality of the game.”
The win means Crescenta Valley (13-2 overall record, 5-0 in league), ranked No. 5 in the most recent CIF-Southern Section Division IIA poll, is now just two wins away from an unblemished league record and league crown.
“We’re always hunting for that league championship. Last year we weren’t able to win it, but our goal is to win it this year,” said Zargarian, whose team’s remaining Pacific League games are against Muir and Arcadia. “It’s right there, but there is still a long way to go.”
Hoover (3-10 overall, 0-6 league) had trailed by as many as 16 points late in the third quarter before roaring back. The Tornados scored the last seven points of the third quarter, then started the fourth on a 13-3 run to take the lead when Michael Fernandez-Washington caught a cross-court pass and drilled a three-pointer from the left side to make the score 50-49 with just over three minutes to go.
CV’s John Hebert tied the score the next time down the court, hitting one of two free throws after being hacked on a putback attempt. Allen Boghossian then stole the ball. Soon after, CV’s Ryan Raad hit one from beyond the arc to pull ahead once again. On the defensive end, Boghossian blocked a putback attempt, then Falcon Gavin Shaghoian dished the ball to Raad for a lay-up.
Hoover’s Anthony Van Patten answered with a jump shot to pull within one possession at 55-52 with 40 seconds remaining. Shaghoian then deliberately dribbled the ball in the front court and successfully drew a foul. The senior made both ends of the one-and-one opportunity at the line with 27 seconds to go to secure the win.
“It was late in a close game, [we] just slowed the pace down and waited for the other team to foul us,” Shaghoian said. “We had the advantage and got to take advantage of that.”
In the final moments, Shaghoian and Sebastian Tahmasian each made another free throw to account for the final margin.
Shaghoian tied for game-high honors in points with 17, including 11 in the second half. Quinlin Daly joined him in double figures with 12. Raad chipped in eight and Tahmasian had seven. Herbert and Boghossian each scored five. Sean Kosco and Mikail Girgoryan had three and two points, respectively.
Fernandez-Washington, a transfer from Providence High in Burbank, also scored a game-high 17 points, including a trifecta of three-pointers from the corners in the third quarter. Simon Ovasapyan scored 14 in just his second game of the season after returning from an injury. Anthony Van Patten and Daniel Simon each netted seven points, David Khourdadjian had three, and both Allen Akopyan and Zack Van Patten had two.
Hoover scored the first five points of the contest and held a 13-8 advantage after the opening period. Crescenta Valley seized control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring the hosts 18-8 for a five-point cushion at halftime. The Falcons went on a 10-0 run just past the midway point of the third to balloon their advantage to its peak of 16. Hoover then mounted its comeback, leading to the fourth-quarter drama.
“Guys on both sides of the floor made good plays. It was a good game to watch, I think,” Hoover coach Jack Van Patten said. “[CV] got a couple more lucky bounces than we did. That is just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.”