One of the three local high school girls' basketball team in the Pacific League qualified for the playoffs last season.
Crescenta Valley reached the postseason, while Glendale and Hoover didn’t make the cut.
While they share the common goal of trying to reach the playoffs this season, their body of work in league will likely be the deciding factor in determining their fate.
With Glendale featuring eight seniors, the Nitros (7-4) figure to be in contention for the league championship, which Muir won last season.
Glendale's top players consist of guards Kris Zadourian, Tara Abdul-Ahad, Lala Karimian and Ellin Avanesian and forward Erlin Kezhishzadeh.
It’s provided reason for optimism for Glendale Coach Tania Adary.
“I think league is pretty much up for grabs this year to whoever is ready to play,” Adary said. “We expect to compete for the top three spots.”
Glendale, which finished seventh in league last season, will begin league at home at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Burroughs.
Crescenta Valley (5-8) has been without its best player for the entire season in junior guard Ella Stepanian, a reigning All-Pacific League pick, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus early in the summer. Stepanian hurt her knee and suffered an elbow injury June 30 while competing in an Ararat Homenetmen game after averaging 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game for the Falcons last season.
Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez said its unlikely Stepanian will return this season, meaning there’s sufficient opportunity for other players to rise to the occasion.
“We are carrying over some experience,” said Perez, whose team tied for fourth in league last season. “We need to play our best and keep improving every night.
“We are getting better, but we need to do a better job of cutting down on our turnovers. We want to get our shooting percentage even higher and keep rebounding well. I think Burbank, Burroughs and Arcadia are probably the frontrunners right now. Muir has the size. Keep an eye out on Glendale because they are very experienced and they can upset some of the top teams in league.”
The Falcons, who will open at Muir on Friday, will turn to post players Cynthia Shahbandeh and Emily Beglarian and forwards Sammi Lamb and Emily Beglarian to help pick up the slack created by Stepanian’s absence.
Hoover finished in last place in league last season and will look to switch directions with an up-and-coming roster picked by coach Stan Watson.
The Tornadoes (2-7) will try to win at least one league contest, something they didn’t accomplish last season.
“We haven’t been successful in league the last three years,” Watson said. “This time, we want to be able to knock off a team in league.
“I haven’t seen any of the others teams in our league. There might be some parity in league. We just have to focus on our team and reduce our turnovers.”
Hoover will be led by center Allison Zalin and forward Nanor Serajian.