LA CRESCENTA — Once trailing by as many as 15 points, the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team launched an impressive and perhaps season-defining rally.
The Falcons outscored visiting Burroughs by 16 points in the fourth quarter and nearly matched their own offensive production from three previous periods in a 66-58 victory in Pacific League play Monday evening.
Crescenta Valley (16-8, 8-2 in league) maintained its second-place standing in league with the victory, as the Falcons remained on the heels of first-place Pasadena (14-8, 9-1), which faces now third-place Burroughs (15-7, 7-3) in Pasadena on Wednesday.
“To be completely honest, at no point in time did we panic,” said Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian, whose squad won the fourth quarter, 31-15. “The coaching staff kept on talking about just playing the game. The kids played with so much poise, they knew what they were doing out there.”
The Falcons trailed the Indians, 43-35, to begin the fourth and immediately closed within two possessions on an inside basket from 6-foot-6 senior forward Eric Patten, who led his squad with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Patten was fouled on the play and sank his free throw to push the Falcons within 43-38.
The Indians maintained their five-point advantage until a three-pointer from senior guard Eric Bae, who was assisted by Berj Krikorian (eight points), at 5:15 sliced the home team’s deficit to two points.
Three seconds later, the Falcons knotted the game at 48 after the Indians bench was called for a technical foul and Crescenta Valley’s Kyle Currie drained two three throws.
“We had some calls that didn’t go our way and that was one,” Indians Coach Adam Hochberg said. “That technical came out of nowhere and tied the game.”
What Hochberg and his Indians were unaware of was that the technical foul accounted for two points of what was a Falcons 21-5 run that was capped by a three-pointer from Chris Bouchard set up on an assist from Bae with 2:20 remaining that put Crescenta Valley up, 56-48.
“It was about trust in each other,” said Bae, who finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists. “My teammates trusted that I would knock down shots and I trusted that they would do the same.”
Burroughs, which has been deadly inside the paint, chose not to drive, instead attempting three-pointers on each of its next three possessions, all of which were missed.
The Falcons took advantage of the Indians’ shot selection and their free-throw shooting late, as Burroughs missed the front-end of back-to-back one-plus-one bonus situations, in eventually leading, 60-48, with 1:27 left after a pair of free throws from Currie.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons hit all 13 of their free-throw tries, while Burroughs finished four for six.
For a while, the pivotal Pacific League contest looked like a runaway, as Burroughs took a 32-21 lead into halftime.
Indians guard Amaad Wainright helped fuel Burroughs’ third-quarter push as the senior led all players with 24 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Just as Crescenta Valley pulled to within 32-25 with 5:36 left in the third on a layup from Arin Ovanessian, Wainwright answered back with a three-pointer to put the visitors back up by 10.
Wainwright then followed a step-back 18-footer from teammate Steven Hubbell (12 points and four steals) with a 27-foot straightaway triple with 4:03 left that gave the Indians a 40-25 advantage and led to a Falcons timeout.
“Our strategy in the first half was to double-team [Wainright] and that was giving other players uncontested shots,” Zargarian said. “In the second half, credit to my assistant coach Eric Strangis, we decided to play him straight up. We felt if we could keep the other guys from getting involved, we could come back.”
Burroughs’ supporting cast around Wainwright shot four for nine from the three-point line in the first half, but only one for seven in the second half.
“We were up 15 and didn’t put the game away,” Hochberg said. “We ran into some adversity tonight and now we have to respond. We have Pasadena next and that’s a new challenge and new opportunity for us to get right back into the league race.”