The echoes of basketballs bouncing and sneakers squeaking fill the air, signaling the return of the 2023-24 boys’ basketball season. The Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover high school varsity squads began a campaign this week that promises adrenaline-pumping moments, intense rivalries, and the pursuit of league and CIF titles. Here is a detailed outlook of team expectations and goals for the new season.
Last season’s Pacific League runner-up Falcons have set their sights on dethroning Pasadena and reclaiming their title. Crescenta Valley head coach Shawn Zargarian has also outlined the team’s goals of securing multiple tournaments titles and reaching the 20-win plateau, on top of an extended CIF Southern Section playoff run.
“In our league, almost every game is a rivalry,” Shawn Zargarian said. “Every team is well-coached and talented. With success comes the added pressure of teams wanting to beat you.”
The Falcons will lean on crucial production from Vaughn Zargarian, the sole returning starter from last year’s squad. Coach Shawn Zargarian anticipates that his 6-foot-1 utility player will be instrumental on both offense and defense. Returners Logan Freemon and Derek Najarian are also poised to play pivotal offensive roles as the duo has developed into capable shooters.
Crescenta Valley (3-0 overall) opened the regular season on a high note in the Bravo Tournament this week, collecting wins against Sotomayor High of Los Angeles, 75-34, Hamilton High of Los Angeles, 78-64, and Marshall High of Los Angeles, 83-39. A full tournament roundup will be included in next week’s issue. The Falcons will next compete in the San Gabriel Tournament starting on Nov. 21.
The Nitros aim to position themselves as strong competitors in the Pacific League this season. Although Glendale has finished the last three seasons without a winning record, coach Art Samontina is confident in his team’s ability to break the streak.
“We expect to compete this year in a position to make playoffs,” Samontina said. “We have been preparing all summer and fall to overcome challenges that may come our way.”
Glendale has circled key league matchups against Crescenta Valley and Hoover high schools.
“During rivalry games, each team always brings out their A-game,” Samontina said. “It all boils down [to] who wants it more. CV is a very good team and they have [a] proven track record. Playing them will present many challenges that we look to overcome.”
Samontina highlighted the potential impact of returning senior Haig Jivalagian this season. However, he emphasized the team’s strength in not relying on one or two players to carry the load. Leadership from other seniors, including Matthew Bidrosian, Anthony Agakhanyan, Cayden Mailed, David Davtian, Harout Karapetyan and Rein Rigor will be critical in guiding the seven underclassmen on the roster.
“Our returning seniors play a crucial role in leading the team. Their experience will help guide our younger guys,” Samontina said. “When one guy is down or not playing, the other guy next up needs to step in.”
The Nitros opened the regular season on the right foot with a 77-66 victory over visiting La Salle College Preparatory of Pasadena on Nov. 15; detailed game coverage will be included in next week’s issue of the Glendale News-Press. Glendale (1-0 overall) will visit San Marino for a nonleague game on Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. before competing in the San Dimas Tournament the following week.
The Tornados are back on the court with two clear objectives: maximize wins and secure a top spot in the Pacific League. To achieve these goals, head coach Jack Van Patten emphasized the importance of his players staying healthy, preparing and focusing throughout the season.
“We expect every player to do their best to play to their potential and support their teammates,” Jack Van Patten said. “This year, if everyone does this, we can win a ton of games and be in the top tier of the league.”
Coming off a winless league performance last year with a 5-20 overall record, the Tornados are determined to secure a spot in the CIF Southern Section playoffs after missing out on the postseason for the eighth straight year. The team will look to senior contributors Zack Van Patten and Hakop Demirjian, in addition to sophomore Justin Herrera, for key production on the court.
“Zack and Justin are an excellent guard combo and we expect a lot out of them,” Jack Van Patten said. “Hakop Demirjian is a returner with a lot of experience who we expect a lot from.”
Additionally, seniors Atom Shahoian, Michael Shamoun, Aryan Sharma and Ethan Davis are expected to be leaders for the six underclassmen on and off the court.
“Our seniors are expected to lead by example, [be] fully engaged in practice and get in the extra work after hours to be prepared for the season,” Jack Van Patten said. “Also, our seniors are excellent students which pressures our underclassmen to produce in the classroom.”
The Tornados picked up a season-opening 79-41 victory over visiting Monrovia on Nov. 13 before suffering a 73-40 nonleague loss at San Marino on Nov. 15; detailed game coverage will be included in next week’s issue of the Glendale News-Press. Hoover (1-1 overall) will compete in the San Gabriel Tournament next week, starting with a matchup against El Monte on Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.
First published in the November 18 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.