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Pair leads the way to title

Jeff Tully

Area boys’ high school basketball coaches might have a few gems

heading their way in the future.

Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services youth players


Varag Zakarian and Jordan Barrett are developing into talented

athletes with fine skills and a great shots.

Zakarian, a seventh grader who attends John Muir Middle School,

and Barrett, who is in the sixth grade at Village Christian School,


helped the Burbank Tarheels earn a championship in the seventh-grade

division in the Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation


The team -- coached by Mike Graceffo and Bob Hart and made up of

seven seventh graders and two six graders -- captured the title by

defeating La Verne, 45-31, last week at Azuza Memorial Park.

“Varag and Jordan are very good players,” Graceffo said. “I know

any of the local high school coaches would love to have either of


them in their program.”

Things didn’t look good for the Tarheels in the early going, as La

Verne jumped to a 9-2 first-quarter lead and held a 16-11 advantage

at halftime.

However, Burbank switched to a full-court, man-to-man defense in

the second half and it paid dividends. Burbank outscored its

opponent, 15-2, in the third quarter and was able to take control of

the game.


“Our players really did a good job coming back and they played

well in that third quarter,” Graceffo said.

Barrett keyed the Burbank comeback with 15 points and 11 rebounds

and Zakarian added 12 points and seven assists. Teammate Matt Bertole

had 11 points -- including a clutch three-pointer in the third

quarter -- Tyler McLaren scored two three-pointers and Brandon Rude

and Chris Burghdorf added some key rebounds.

Zakarian came up big for Burbank in the opening game of the

tournament, as he scored 18 points and had seven rebounds in a 41-25

win against Monrovia.

Barrett added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Tyler Kramer and Josh

Bernhard provided tough defense for the Tarheels.

Barrett stepped up again in a second-round game against host

Azuza. He scored a tournament-high 20 points and had 16 rebounds to

pace Burbank to a 63-26 semifinal rout. Zakarian added 12 points and

11 assists, Rude had nine points, Kramer and Michael Depalo had eight

points each and Bertole had seven.

The Tarheels earned a spot in the SCMAF playoffs by winning their

seventh-grade conference in the Burbank park league.