ARCADIA — Behind a brilliant third-quarter run, the Glendale High girls’ basketball team tipped off Pacific League play in fine fashion.
The Nitros, who finished third in league last season, began their push for even more with a 52-44 victory Tuesday afternoon at Arcadia.
Glendale’s triumph is it third consecutive versus the Apaches.
“At halftime we had some seniors really step up and tell the team that it needed to improve its play,” second-year Glendale Coach Tadeh Mardirosian said. “Sylvia Vartazarian and Claire Yanai, they really kind of put it together in leading the team defensively and helping to shut down Arcadia in the second half.”
Vartazarian tallied a team-high 21 points and added seven rebounds, while Yanai had 10 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and three assists.
The Nitros (10-6) trailed, 25-24, at halftime and surrendered a 14-9 advantage after one quarter to the Apaches (8-6), who won the second quarter, 16-10.
In the third quarter, though, Glendale responded with a 13-2 run capped on a three-point play by Vartazarian. The 5-foot-11 center hit a runner while fouled and sank her subsequent free throw with 57 seconds left to put Glendale up, 37-27.
Though the Apaches outscored the Nitros, 4-2, in the quarter’s final 50 seconds, they still lost the third, 16-6, which flipped a one-point lead into a 40-31 Glendale advantage.
“We weren’t really playing our game in the first half,” Vartazarian said. “I don’t want to say we were messing around, but the second half was us, that was really us.”
As for the fourth quarter, there was no let-up from the Nitros, who opened with a 7-2 spurt culminated on a turn-around jumper from Yanai with 5:42 left that put the visitors ahead, 47-33.
The lead remained at double digits until the Apaches hit a couple jumpers in the final 90 seconds to cement the eight-point defeat.
“This is really good for our team, because we were practicing really hard for this game,” Yanai said. “All the hard work paid off and you really want to start off league with a win.”
Perhaps lost in Glendale’s scoring frenzy was a strong defensive effort from Yanai, who had the unenviable task of locking up with Ashley Sue, Arcadia’s top offensive threat.
Sue entered Tuesday’s affair having scored 17 or more points in four of her last five games, but was held to a team-high 14 points on 15 shots.
“I do want to emphasize one thing and I do really mean this that Claire, today, she had the toughest task defensively,” Mardirosian said. “Claire really out-did all my expectations and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Despite what had generally been considered a strong preseason effort, Glendale entered Tuesday’s game with four straight losses.
Whatever bad vibes the team might have had in December did not carry over into the new year as the Nitros scored seven of the game’s first 11 points to take a 14-9 lead after eight minutes.
Clarissa Kiyomura, eldest daughter of Flintridge Prep co-Coach Kevin Kiyomura, was Arcadia’s second-leading scorer and finished with seven points.
Jillian Yanai and Merina Latu both added nine points for Glendale, which is back in action Friday and will host Muir.