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Ready for the world

Edgar Melik-Stepanyan

BURBANK-- Somebody has to do the dirty work on this all-star team, so

it might as well be Christine Kepenekian.

Somebody also has to be a reliable guard and an on-court leader

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who can score and make her teammates better, so those

responsibilities might as well fall on Kepenekian’s shoulders, too.

And somebody on this guard-filled squad needs to be willing to

play the forward position, defending taller and stronger opponents.

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Kepenekian will also share some of those duties.

As Coach Hoosik Ghookasian said, Kepenekian, a 2003 Burbank High

graduate, can play every position for his Glendale-based women’s

basketball team representing the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter.

She just might have to.

Kepenekian expects a lot from herself, as do her coaches and

teammates, and she knows she’ll be a critical component to her team’s

success at the Third Pan Armenian Games, which are scheduled to run

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Saturday through Aug. 24.

The 2001 Burbank Leader All-Area Player of the Year will join Ani

Arutyunyan, Arpa Gregorian, Christine Hayrapetian, Teni Hartounian,

Arsineh Eskandari, Melissa Eskandari, Tania Adary, Sharis

Hambarchian, Serineh Haghverdian, Argineh Margharian and Arlet

Vartanian in Glendale’s quest for a title in Yerevan, Armenia.

“We expect a lot from her because she could play three positions

[guard, small forward and power forward] very well,” Glendale

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assistant coach Mike Vartanian said.

Kepenekian said she’ll do whatever it takes to come back home with

a gold medal.

“I expect myself to get every loose ball,” said Kepenekian, an

All-Area first-team selection this past season who’ll play at Cal

State University Bakersfield, an NCAA Division II program. “It’s

hard, but you have to do it to win.

“It’s not always about offense. Defense wins games. The only thing

you can control is your hustle and attitude.”

Hustle was something Kepenekian displayed a lot of at Burbank.

Along with being a perennial All-Foothill League selection, she was

also a three-time All-Area honoree.

During her senior season, Kepenekian was one of the most prolific

scorers in California. Along with scoring 24.1 points a game, she

also averaged 13.5 rebounds, five assists and four steals a contest.

A model of consistency, she scored in double figures in all but

one of the Bulldogs’ 27 games. Her high game was 40 points, coming

against Van Nuys Montclair Prep. She also grabbed 24 rebounds in a

league game against Canyon.

Controlling their hustle and attitude won’t be a problem for the

Glendale players. Handling their opponents is a completely different

story, though.

Glendale enters the 12-team tournament -- which features clubs

from six countries -- not knowing much about their opponents except

for that most of the teams are probably bigger and more experienced.

“They play old-school basketball and it works,” said Hartounian, a

2000 Hoover graduate who is the only player on this year’s team that

competed on the Glendale Pan Armenian squad two years ago.

Glendale needs its fast-break offense and its small, but quick

defense to be effective if it has any shot of advancing to the

eight-team playoff, which will include the winners of the three

groups, the three second-place finishers and the two teams with the

best third-place records.

Glendale’s group consists of Tehran, Moscow and Los Angeles.

Tehran and Los Angeles took third and fourth, respectively, at the

Second Pan Armenian Games, when Glendale walked off the court in

their quarterfinal playoff contest against eventual-champion Yerevan

because they were upset with the officiating.

“We have a lot of trust in our guards, and we have good ball

rotation,” Hayrapetian said.

“Because we don’t have the height, we have to rely on our fast

break to get our scoring. Each one of the players have adjusted to

this team and changed.”

Gregorian, a 2003 Hoover grad, is the x-factor, and Glendale’s

success might depend on how much she’s adjusted to the team concept.

She’s one of the only true post players Glendale has, and if she

stays out of foul trouble, Glendale’s guards should be freed up for

open looks. That all sounds so easy, but it isn’t. Nothing is with

Gregorian, who had a habit of taking over games at Hoover and

sleepwalking through others.

“This is different,” Gregorian said. “It’s more serious.”

With or without Gregorian’s help, Glendale has a handful of

players who are dependable three-point shooters, like Arutyunyan,

Kepenekian, Hayrapetian, Hartounian and Arsineh Eskandari.

“I think there is a lot of firepower from the guards,” Glendale

assistant coach Martik Ghookasian said. “Christine [Kepenekian] is a

great shooter, and we got Teni.

“We’re lined up at the three-point line.”

With a little luck, Glendale might also be in line to win a title.


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