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Holy Martyrs Sunk by Cass’ Only Points

It was just a simple flick of the wrist, but Mike Cass’ 10-foot jump shot at the buzzer Friday night tore the heart right out of the Holy Martyrs High basketball team.

Cass’ basket in overtime capped an amazing comeback by Cate, which defeated the Armens, 56-54, in the Southern Section Small Schools Division quarterfinal game before a packed house at Holy Martyrs.

The Armens (17-7), aglow from the excitement of their finest playoff showing ever, collapsed to the floor in tears after Cass’ shot, some pounding their fists on the hardwood, others simply kneeling in silence.

They had done what they had planned to do during a timeout 17 seconds earlier: They had kept the ball out of high-scoring Lyman Casey’s hands for one of the few times all night.

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And yet they had still lost--on Cass’ first shot and only points of the game.

“He made it, but I don’t think he’d make many of those if he tried again,” Holy Martyrs Coach Varant Vartabedian said. “But I guess it was his day.”

It was not Armen Abramians’ day, however. Holy Martyrs’ standout forward was held to seven points--13 under his average--and made just 2 of 13 shots as Cate (18-2) used a triangle-and-two defense to hound Abramians and guard Viken Tchorbajian.

“I should have done better, but I think we did really well to get this far and come as close as this,” Abramians said. “I think we proved we could play with the best.

“All this week we were so excited. I guess it’s time to come back down to earth.”

Holy Martyrs appeared headed for a victory and a trip to the semifinals late in the fourth period. The Armens, sparked by guards Hovig Khukaz (20 points) and Tchorbajian (19 points), held a 50-45 lead with 49 seconds left in regulation and had Leo Shahinian at the line for a one and one.

Shahinian missed the front end and Casey grabbed one of his game-high 17 rebounds. Andrew Wheeler made a three-point shot at the other end and Cate trailed, 50-48.

Tchorbajian had a one-and-one opportunity with 35 seconds left, but missed the first shot and Cass rebounded. After a timeout, Cate worked the ball into Casey, who made a jump shot in the lane to tie the score, 50-50, with eight seconds to play. Tchorbajian missed a shot at the other end and the game went into overtime.

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After Cate made the first overtime basket, Khukaz hit a three-point shot to put the Armens ahead, 53-52, but Wheeler countered with a jump shot to send Cate ahead, 54-53. Tchorbajian made one of two free throws with 45 seconds left to tie the score, 54-54, and Cate worked the clock down to 17 seconds before calling a timeout.

“We wanted to get the ball into me, but Abramians played some great defense on me, so we gave it to Michael and he did what he does all the time--come through in the clutch,” said Casey, who led all scorers with 33 points.


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