LA CRESCENTA — Not all losses are created equal or at least that was the outlook Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball Coach Shawn Zargarian took after his team fell to Westlake, 86-78, in the third-place game of the Falcon Classic on Friday.
Even though the Falcons suffered their second loss in a row, their resilience and energy in battling back from a huge early deficit to get withing four points late was a bit of a victory in itself.
“Flat out energy and effort,” Zargarian said when asked about the difference between Friday’s loss and Thursday night’s 58-55 loss to Kennedy in which the Falcons squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. “I think last night we came out and thought we were going to win the game because we’re going to win the game. We played with no effort, no energy, just walking around basically, and tonight we showed a lot of heart and a lot of character.
“That’s how losing should feel, to me — when you play as hard as you can and you’re disappointed because you played so hard and you lost the game.”
A tight finish seemed unlikely when the Falcons (2-2) were down by as many as 18 late in the third quarter and entered the fourth trailing, 67-51.
Cole Currie, who scored 23 points, brought the Warriors’ lead down to 72-62 with a quick pull-up jump shot followed by a three-pointer at the 4:32 mark of the fourth and Nick Springer, who led CV with 24 points and nine rebounds, kept the Falcons within 75-64 with a layup a couple of minutes later.
It wasn’t until inside the final 60 seconds, though, that the Falcons cut the deficit down to single digits, when Narbeh Grigorian knocked down a three-pointer with 50 seconds left to make it 81-73. Springer followed with a putback on a fast break to close to within 82-75 with 38 seconds remaining.
After Westlake (7-1) missed some free throws at the other end, Currie came back with a three-pointer with 21 seconds left to get the Falcons within four, but the Warriors’ next two free throws were true and Crescenta Valley’s next miss all but ended the game.
The game seemed over much sooner than that, as Westlake ran the Falcons ragged in the first quarter with a run-and-gun three-point shooting offense, fueled by Crescenta Valley turnovers.
The Falcons gave the ball away nine times in the opening period and 15 in the first half, as the Warriors got steals in the backcourt with a well-run press and filled passing lanes for easy pickings in their halfcourt defense, as well.
“They’re aggressive defensively, that’s what they do, and we were careless,” Zargarian said. “I think we caught the ball nonchalant at times and tried to put it on the floor instead of catching it and keeping our eyes up and being stronger with it.”
The Warriors, who were led by 24 points from Grant Lozoya and 20 from Larry Bush, seemingly couldn’t miss from the field either, shooting eight of 10 from beyond the arc in the first quarter to take a 36-20 lead.
“I think we were a step slow closing on those three-point shots, but you’ve got to give them credit for knocking down those shots,” Zargarian said.
The Warriors cooled off in the second quarter, where they only scored 11 points, with the final three coming on a buzzer-beating shot by Marcos Soto that kept Westlake’s halftime lead at 47-40.
Prior to that shot, Crescenta Valley had clawed nearly all the way back from a 40-26 deficit when Currie fed Springer for back-to-back three-pointers midway through the period before Currie and Eric Patten (19 points) connected on jumpers to make it 44-40 with a few seconds remaining.