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
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.
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
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
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
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.