Top 10 Games of 2013-14: Glendale water polo is No. 1

The top-10 high school games from the 2013-14 season were selected by the sportswriters of the Glendale News-Press.

1 Glendale boys' water polo defeats Los Altos, 13-11, Nov. 23, 2013

"It was a moment that hadn't occurred in nearly 25 years —- a Glendale High sports team receiving a CIF championship plaque and hoisting it in the air while celebrating in front of its ardent fans. Occasionally, the Nitros got close to winning a title by advancing to the semifinals or finals. However, they would go on to endure their share of heartbreak. Heartbreak turned into jubilation late Saturday afternoon when top-seeded Glendale posted a 13-11 victory against second-seeded Los Altos in the CIF Southern Section Division V championship match at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center."

Charles Rich

It had been a long wait for Glendale in terms of winning a CIF Southern Section championship. Following 28 minutes of back-and-forth action, Glendale saw its title drought end when the top-seeded Nitros turned back second-seeded Los Altos. Glendale won its first CIF-SS crown since the boys' volleyball squad beat Harvard-Westlake in 1989.

It certainly wasn’t easy. Manuk Piloyan of Glendale had two key fourth-quarter goals that proved the difference. Piloyan finished with four goals.

“I had to step up and score,” said Piloyan, who contributed an insurance goal with 1:04 remaining. “It feels really good. We finally won. Coming back from last year when we lost, it pumped me up really good scoring that goal.”

Arman Momdzhyan, who finished with a match-best six goals and served as the primary go-to player throughout the season for Glendale, was forced to watch the remainder of the contest from the bench after he picked up his third exclusion with 2:22 left.

“It was very tough, it was stressful, like you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Momdzhyan said of being sent to the pool deck with his team holding a 12-11 lead. “Anything can happen in the last minutes of the game and I’ve got to give credit to Los Altos. They played a great game, but our team just stuck through it.”

Glendale took a 10-8 lead on Momdzhyan’s final goal, a quick sweep shot with 3:30 left in the third quarter.

2 St. Francis basketball beats La Cañada, 56-53, Feb. 28

"At times, it felt like the roof was caving in on the St. Francis High boys' basketball team. The visiting Golden Knights trailed for the better part of two and a half quarters versus Foothill Blvd.-rival La Cañada in a city showdown that didn't just promise the winner bragging rights, but also a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division III-A championship. Despite trailing by seven points early in the fourth quarter, St. Francis rallied behind an 11-point run and then held on late against the Spartans on a slippery basketball court at neutral Maranatha High for a 56-53 victory in Friday evening's divisional semifinal contest that clinched the Golden Knights the program's first-ever championship-game visit."

Andrew J. Campa

Things appeared bleak for second-seeded St. Francis against third-seeded La Cañada in the second half. La Cañada jumped out to a 51-44 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter. However, the Golden Knights began a surge on both ends of the court that would see them outscore the Spartans, 12-2, the remainder of the way in front of more than 1,500 fans. St. Francis used an 11-0 run to take a 55-51 advantage in the final few moments.

La Cañada made two free throws with 1:35 remaining to trim the deficit to 55-53, but Kyle Leufroy made one of two free throws with 16.9 seconds left to make it 56-53. La Cañada had an opportunity to tie the game, but committed a turnover as St. Francis’ Evan Crawford scooped up the loose ball near midcourt and ran out the clock before being mobbed by his teammates.

Leufroy finished with 22 points and four steals.

“It’s huge for this program to get to a championship,” St. Francis co-Coach Ray O’Brien said. “We had never even been to the semifinals before, so this is special.”

3 Crescenta Valley football upsets Burbank, 48-47, in overtime, Oct. 11, 2013

"Things became a lot more interesting in the Pacific League, as Crescenta Valley High football made itself a contender again with an overtime win over previously undefeated Burbank.

It appeared the Falcons were on the verge of another collapse, but they pulled out all the stops for an underdog victory, 48-47, over the Bulldogs at Moyse Field. "

Andrew Shortall

After leading the entire Pacific League home game at Glendale High’s Moyse Field, it appeared things wouldn’t finish in Crescenta Valley’s favor. Knotted at 40, the Falcons marched into field-goal territory, but couldn’t convert on a 32-yard field goal with nine seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime.

The missed chance didn’t bother the Falcons, who fought back in overtime.

Burbank began overtime with a touchdown to take its first lead of the game at 47-40. Crescenta Valley then bounced back with what looked to be a reverse play that was tossed back to junior quarterback Brian Gadsby. Gadsby, who completed 25 of 33 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns, connected with wide receiver Chase Walker for a 38-yard touchdown to pull to within 47-46.

Crescenta Valley chose to go for the win with a two-point conversion attempt. It completed the attempt successfully when Gadsby tossed a pass in the back of the end zone to Walker, who caught the ball before dragging his feet just inbounds.

Crescenta Valley held a 40-32 advantage with 5:12 to play when Kevin Hello (105 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries) scored his second touchdown on a 10-yard run. However, The Falcons missed the extra-point attempt and Burbank stormed back to tie it at 40 with 2:57 left.

4 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming sweeps Mission League finals, April 29

"Just as it dominated en route to an undefeated Mission League dual meet championship, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming team flexed its might at the league finals.

Turning in a historically perfect day at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, the Tologs won all 12 events at the Mission League finals Tuesday afternoon, with standouts Kirsten Vose, Katie Altmayer and Kate Herrill winning four events apiece."

Grant Gordon

Flintridge Sacred Heart won the league title for the third straight season and showed its star power during the league finals.

Paving the way was Vose, who took first in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 freestyle relay. She helped the Tologs win the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle events.

“We never talked about [winning every race] until about halfway through and then coach told us we’d won everyone,” Vose said, “so keep it going.”

Vose won the 100 freestyle in a meet-record time of 50.63 seconds. She posted a mark of 2:05.86 to capture the 200 IM. Altmayer won the 200 freestyle (1:54.98) and the 100 butterfly (57.74). She also swam legs in the 200-free and 400-free relays.

Herrill took the 50 freestyle (23.62) and then won the 100 breaststroke (1:04.82). In addition, Caroline Bender took the league diving title with a score of 355.40.

The Tologs also received top marks from Christina Campbell and Caitlin Smith. Campbell clocked 5:05.8 in the 500 freestyle and Smith took the 100 backstroke in 1:00.05.

The Tologs completed their perfection when Vose, Altmayer, Smith and Herrill won the 400-free relay in a meet-record time of 3:31.98.

5 Crescenta Valley baseball tops Arcadia, 1-0, May 16

"A foundation of strong pitching and fundamental defense have long been cornerstones of Crescenta Valley High baseball success. So too has been the practice of what Falcons Coach Phil Torres refers to as 'special teams plays,' such as double steals and pickoffs.

Thus, it was fitting that as the Falcons found themselves in a battle for the Pacific League title with archrival Arcadia, it was those aforementioned areas in which Crescenta Valley shined.

Needing a victory to claim the league title all for themselves, the Falcons celebrated into a hot spring night after defeating Arcadia, 1-0, on the strength of a Brian Gadsby shutout and a Michael Russo steal of home Friday at Stengel Field."

Grant Gordon

Crescenta Valley needed a victory against rival Arcadia to win the Pacific League championship outright. It didn’t waste any time looking to achieve that goal, thanks to a successful double steal in the first inning.

With Kewin Ledesma heading to second base and drawing a throw from the pitcher, Michael Russo dashed for home and slid in safely.

Crescenta Valley pitcher Brian Gadsby needed 74 pitches to earn the shutout. The right-hander limited the Apaches to two hits and struck out four while never going to a three-ball count.

“I went out there excited just like I know everybody else did and we all played our butts off,” Gadsby said.

Crescenta Valley finished 1-0-1 against Arcadia. The teams played to a 4-4 deadlock in the first meeting, which was called in extra innings because of rain.

6 Flintridge Prep boys' basketball beats Pasadena Poly, 55-53, Jan. 28

En route to winning the Prep League championship, the Rebels needed to rally for a pair of improbable victories against their archrival. They were able to accomplish the feat twice, the second one coming thanks to another standout effort from Stanford University-bound Robert Cartwright.

Playing on the road, Flintridge Prep rallied from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Cartwright scored 16 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter, including the winning basket on a layup with 3.6 seconds remaining.

“I told our team going into the fourth quarter that we weren’t going to lose and we could mount another big comeback,” said Cartwright, a guard who scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to help the Rebels overcome a 10-point deficit to earn a 41-39 home victory against Pasadena Poly on Jan. 10. “We’ve done it before and we felt confident we could get it done again.

“On the winning shot, I definitely wanted to be able to take it. There was a little seam in the lane and I was able to drive to the basket. We worked hard for this win and to do it twice against Poly is incredible.”

Flintridge Prep overcame a 48-31 deficit in the last quarter.

“This game was like a sequel, except this one was a lot more dramatic,” Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. “With Robert, you know he’s somebody who is poised and wants the ball.”

7 Flintridge Prep girls' soccer upends Malibu, 2-2 (2-1), Feb. 21

Lauren Stiles remained calm while standing on the goal line a few moments before taking part in her first penalty-kick session. Stiles, a sophomore goalkeeper for Flintridge Prep, stopped four penalty kicks and Kaitlin Liston scored the game-winning penalty kick to lead host Flintridge Prep to a victory in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round match.

“It’s my first year as a goalie and normally I’ve been a midfielder,” said Stiles, who also stopped a penalty shot in the second half. “I got more confident with every round in the penalty kicks.”

Flintridge Prep raced to a 2-0 lead midway through the second half. Flintridge Prep’s Alexis Gordon was then given a red card for an intentional hand ball in front of the Flintridge Prep goal, forcing the Rebels to play the remainder of the match short-handed. Malibu tallied a pair of goals in the final four minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime and then penalty kicks.

In the penalty-kick session, Stiles stopped Malibu’s Carmen Flood and Erin Samuel in the first two rounds. Malibu goalkeeper Nina Hungerland turned aside a first-round shot before Cassie Redding scored to give the Rebels a 1-0 advantage. In the third round, Malibu’s Danica Downing tied it at 1. Liston then concluded the round with a goal to make it 2-1 before Stiles made two more saves to cap the win.

8 Crescenta Valley football defeats San Marino, 56-53, Sept. 12, 2013

In a see-saw contest, Kevin Hello, a defensive back and running back, registered a pair of touchdowns to help the Falcons pick up the nonleague home win at Moyse Field. Hello’s first touchdown came when he blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown with three seconds to play in the third quarter. His other score came on a 36-yard run with 4:05 left to play that gave Crescenta Valley an insurmountable 56-45 lead.

“It feels amazing, we haven’t started 2-0 for 11 or 12 years and it feels amazing to be the team that breaks that curse,” said Hello, who also had 72 yards on four carries and tallied three broken-up passes, two forced fumbles and a sack.

Crescenta Valley quarterback Brian Gadsby completed 27 of 40 passes for 463 yards and six touchdowns.

9 Crescenta Valley boys' basketballs bests Pasadena, 55-51, Feb. 7

Vying for a Pacific League championship, Crescenta Valley needed a victory against Pasadena. It didn’t look good for the Falcons, but they eventually rallied from a nine-point deficit early in the fourth quarter against nine-time defending league-champion Pasadena.

Crescenta Valley’s defense stood up to the task against Pasadena, forcing several key turnovers and taking the lead in the final couple of minutes. Crescenta Valley’s Eric Bae scored to give the Falcons a 52-49 lead with 56.2 seconds remaining. Bae then made two free throws down the stretch the seal the victory.

Crescenta Valley’s Eric Patten had a game-high 29 points and added eight rebounds and two blocks.

10 St. Francis football falls to Gardena Serra, 35-21, Nov. 1, 2013

It’s never an easy task to have to face traditional state power Gardena Serra on the road. For the first half, St. Francis more than held its own during a Mission League contest.

Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, the second half proved to be a different outcome as the Cavaliers scored 14 points to earn the victory. Serra, which scored the game’s final 28 points, entered the contest as the defending state champion and ranked sixth in the country, according to and St. Francis rolled up 289 yards of offense, 17 first downs and three touchdowns in the first half. St. Francis held a 21-7 lead before Serra tied it at 21 right before halftime.

Golden Knights quarterback Ty Gangi completed 18 of 36 passes for 289 yards and one touchdown overall.

Serra quarterback Jalen Greene (10 for 20 for 236 yards and three touchdowns) scored the game-winning touchdown on a 51-yard touchdown run to give Serra a 28-21 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Honorable mention:

Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball

defeats Pasadena Poly, May 6;

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball

defeats El Dorado, Nov. 16, 2013;

Flintridge Prep boys' basketball

defeats Pasadena Poly, Jan. 10;

Glendale boys' basketball

defeats Muir, Jan. 17;

St. Francis football

defeats Monrovia, Oct. 8, 2013.


Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .