By Edgar Stepanyan
Special to the Glendale News-Press
There was no question who was going to take the final shot.
Andre Spight was the best player for the Glendale men’s basketball team that represented the Homenetmen Ararat chapter in the Pan-Armenian Games.
And when his team needed him more than ever, Spight delivered in an unforgettable way.
Spight, a former standout at Burbank High, hit the game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds remaining to give Glendale an 82-81 victory against Beverly Hills in the championship game of the eighth Pan-Armenian Summer Games on Friday in Armenia.
“The mindset was get the ball to Dre, and get the heck out of the way. Dre bring us home,” said Glendale guard Narbeh Ebrahamian, a Crescenta Valley High School graduate. “We’re on such a natural high right now.”
Glendale, which defeated Beverly Hills 92-84 in the championship game of the Pan-Armenian Games four years ago, became the second men’s basketball team to win back-to-back championships, and it did so in convincing fashion. It went 5-0 in pool-play competition and won its round of 16 game by a whopping 66 points.
Glendale dispatched a team from Tehran 96-69 in the quarterfinals before meeting Artik, a squad from Armenia, in the semifinals. Glendale won 97-80 but the game was closer than the final score indicated.
In the semifinal matchup against Artik, a three-pointer by Glendale set up a 79-77 lead with 3:11 remaining in the game. Spight, who played in the NBA G League in 2019 and spent last summer playing in a French professional league, followed that three with a pair of baskets of his own and Glendale cruised the rest of the way to set up the much-anticipated rematch against Beverly Hills.
A back-and-forth championship affair captivated the crowd in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. Glendale trailed 81-78 with under a minute to play and Beverly Hills looked like it was en route to its first title.
But Zareh Avedian, a Hoover High grad who was a member of the Glendale team that won the championship in 2003, hit a lay-up to cut the lead to one with 33 seconds remaining.
A missed three-pointer by Beverly Hills that was rebounded by Glendale’s Zareh Zargaryan, a Hoover graduate, allowed Spight to become the game’s hero.
“We got the ball to our Kobe,” said Avedian, referring to the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. “He did what he does.”
Spight drained the clock as long as he could before hitting a contested jumper from the left wing.
Beverly Hills missed a desperation shot in the end, sending Glendale into a frenzy.
“That superstar did what superstars do,” Zargaryan said.
Avedian became the first men’s basketball player to win three titles.
“It was a movie script,” Ebrahamian said. “Z got his last one. It was unbelievable. It was the greatest feeling ever.”
First published in the August 19 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.