LA CRESCENTA — In front of a near capacity crowd in its home gym, the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team scored a key Pacific League victory over Muir.
The Falcons were able to execute their game plan on both ends en route to an impressive 52-41 home victory on Friday evening.
“Huge win,” said Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian, who led the program to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs and a trip to the state tournament the last two seasons. “Muir is a good team with a good tradition. For our kids to come out, battle and pull out a win is huge.”
Zargarian emphasized a defensive effort that held Muir to 28.6% shooting from the field. On the other end, the Falcons were able to execute their game plan in the half-court set, which allowed forward Eric Patten to go to work in the paint.
The senior led the team with 15 points — nine coming in a second quarter that saw the Falcons settle down from a high-energy first quarter to overcome a deficit and take a lead that would not be relinquished for the remainder of the game.
The Falcons (9-6, 2-0) made seven of 12 field-goal attempts in the frame, with Patten taking seven shots and connecting on four, including an emphatic slam dunk that resulted from a back door pass from point guard Berj Krikorian, who tallied five assists along with eight points, as he and the other Crescenta Valley guards showed great composure against the Muir press, according to Zargarian.
The basket brought the Crescenta Valley crowd to its feet and highlighted a quarter in which the Falcons outscored the Mustangs, 15-5, to turn a 13-10 deficit into a 25-18 lead going into the break. Muir (4-6, 1-1) struggled mightily in the quarter, making just one field goal on 17 attempts.
Patten finished the game with a double-double, adding 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“They’re a hectic team, but we were able to run our stuff and showed discipline in our half-court offense,” said Patten, who scored 18 points in the league opener against Glendale. “When we run our stuff, we can score at will.”
Crescenta Valley held the lead throughout the second half, despite Muir cutting the lead down to four on three occasions, only to see Falcons guard Kyle Currie respond with a three-pointer on the latter two to regain cushion, as well as momentum.
Currie finished the game with six points, but his long ball with 4:23 remaining in the game might have been the biggest clutch basket of the night for the Falcons. Muir had started the fourth quarter scoring seven of the stanza’s first nine points to cut the Falcons lead down to 39-35. On the ensuing possession, Currie flashed on the right wing and hit the three, prompting a timeout.
“He’s a great shooter, but that was a tough shot and it changed momentum,” Zargarian said. “Currie had a 28-point game versus Glendale and to come back and hit that ... kid’s playing like a veteran.”
The Mustangs, who were led by Dejon William’s 15 points, were held to their lowest output of the season, despite dominating the offensive glass over the Falcons and giving themselves good looks from inside.
“We showed good effort on defense,” Zargarian said. “We wanted to keep them in the 40s and we obviously did that. For Muir, a bad shot is sometimes a good opportunity. They’re a great offensive rebounding team and, with the exception of Patten and Connor [Van Ginkel], we’re small, but we did a good job of battling and putting our nose on the ball.”
Crescenta Valley will travel for the next four league contests, including a showdown at Burroughs on Monday. For the time being, the Falcons will cherish this one.
“Big win,” Patten said. “We want the league title and [Muir is] always up there, also. We showed we’re a good squad and we can get it done.”