After spending the past month competing in multiple tournaments from the San Fernando Valley to Palm Springs, the Crescenta Valley High, Glendale and Hoover boys' basketball teams are ready for their next set of challenges — jockeying for a playoff spot while handling the peaks and valleys of the Pacific League.
The Falcons, Nitros and Tornadoes, all of whom had some measure of success in December, will tip off league play Friday.
Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover appear ready to take the plunge into a league that appears to have more balance. Pasadena won the league championship and the CIF Southern Section Division III-AAA title last season.
“Preseason is there for a reason, and that’s to help get you ready for league,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian, whose team placed second in league and advanced to the semifinals last season before appearing in the state tournament for the first time since 1994. “I’m happy with what we’ve done during the preseason.
“We lost a couple of tough games, but that’s where you hope that makes you better. Pasadena is always tough, and Glendale and Hoover have been playing real well. I think it’s going to be a dogfight every game [in league]. We just hope we have our best basketball ahead of us.”
The Falcons (9-4) lost 80% of their starting lineup to graduation, including center Christian Misi. The Falcons’ lone returner is senior guard Cole Currie, who will be joined by guard Nick Springer and forwards Elliot Wilson and Eric Patten.
Zargarian, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year, said the Falcons have the necessary ingredients to vie for the league championship.
“We still have some things to work on, but I think we can put it all together and be competing,” said Zargarian, whose team will meet host Muir at 7 p.m. Friday.
Glendale finished fourth in league last season under the direction of coach Steve Snodgress. The Nitros advanced to the playoffs, winning their first postseason game since 1993.
Like Crescenta Valley, Glendale (5-7) showed flashes of success in December. They reached the championship game of the Hart Tournament on Saturday, providing Snodgress with a positive outlook entering league.
“We’ve certainly showed signs that we can do well, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Snodgress, whose team will face visiting Burroughs at 7 p.m. Friday. “We are going in trying to build off of what we did last week at the Hart Tournament.
“Every game in league will be a gigantic challenge, Pasadena, CV and Muir are all going to be very good again. We are going in thinking that everybody is the favorite [in league] but us because we have a lot of things to work on.”
The Nitros will be led by guard Vahe Aristakessian, who has more than held his own against some tough teams such as St. Francis, Hart and Village Christian. He was named to a couple of all-tournament teams and impressed Snodgress.
“He’s been playing very well of late,” said Snodgress, who will look to have a healthy Arada Zakarian back in the lineup soon after recovering from a sprained left shoulder he sustained in the La Cañada Tournament nearly three weeks ago.
Hoover has begun its season on the right note, going 8-4 entering its league opener against host Pasadena. Hoover will look to bounce back after a seventh-place finish in league last season.
The Tornadoes might have the pieces to the puzzle to move up in league, as they have more balance and experience across the court.
“I’m confident with what we have and we can score,” Van Patten said. “I think if we can stick to our plan, then we will be OK.
“I agree that the teams in our league will be stronger. Pasadena reloads every year and CV has a little extra size advantage. Glendale is playing well and Burroughs will have basically the same group coming back.”
The Tornadoes, who have no returning starters, have been sparked by guards Francis Roncal and Teo Davidian.