Abrahamians Rescues Holy Martyrs, 55-52

Simi Valley High has its Don MacLean. San Fernando has its Tory Stephens. Oakwood has its Mitchell Butler.

And, fortunately for the Holy Martyrs Armens, they have Armen Abrahamians.

Abrahamians was a virtual one-man show Tuesday, leading the Armens to a 55-52 Southern Section Small Schools Division playoff victory over two-time defending champion Whitney at Holy Martyrs in Encino.

Abrahamians, a 6-1 senior forward, had game highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds, and led the Armens (18-6) back from the brink of defeat in the fourth period.

"He was the whole team," Whitney forward Robert Doles said. "Without him, that team wouldn't be anything."

Indeed, when Abrahamians received his fourth foul and exited with 4:31 to play in the third quarter, his teammates nearly went to pieces.

The Armens led, 35-27, when Abrahamians went to the bench, but Whitney (17-3) turned the pressure up and went on an 11-2 tear.

Suddenly, faster than you can say Holy Martyrs Armens, the Wildcats were in front, 38-37, with 1:50 left in the third period.

Holy Martyrs retook the lead, 39-38, by the period's end, but with Abrahamians collecting splinters, the Wildcats surged to a 44-39 advantage in the fourth quarter.

The Armens called a timeout with 5:45 to play and Coach Varant Vartabedian reinserted Abrahamians into the lineup.

The talented forward paid immediate dividends, hitting a 10-foot bank shot to pull Holy Martyrs to within 44-41.

Moments later Abrahamians blocked a shot by Jonathan Kraus, dribbled the length of the floor, was fouled and converted two free throws to pull his team within, 46-45.

Abrahamians then stole the ball and missed a slam dunk, but Viken Tchorbajian, who had 16 points, rebounded and scored for a 47-46 Armens lead.

Abrahamians scored on a drive and hit two free throws to put the Armens ahead, 55-50, but a basket by Trent Smart, who led the Wildcats with 16 points, cut the lead to three with less than a minute to play.

Tchorbajian missed the front end of two one-and-one situations down the stretch, but Whitney's Adrian Keller missed a three-point shot and was whistled for a backcourt violation with two seconds to play.

"Usually if we need to make a free throw, I rely on Tchorbajian," Vartabedian said. "He's our best free-throw shooter in pressure time. That's why we wanted the ball in his hands. But he missed them."

But Holy Martyrs, the Liberty League runner-up, will not miss making its first appearance in the quarterfinals Friday.

The Armens will meet Cate, a 59-39 winner over Trona on Tuesday.

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