BURBANK HIGH — A fourth-quarter meltdown will give any coach fits, but it's a little easier to stomach when you've got a 17-point lead to work with.
In Wednesday's CIF Southern Section Division IIAA wild card home game, the Burbank High boys' basketball team followed a first half which Coach Jose Hernandez deemed its "best of the season" with a somewhat less effective performance in the second.
Nevertheless, despite converting just one field goal and scoring only six points over the final 10:30, the Bulldogs hung on for a 52-47 victory against Montclair.
"With a big lead in the second half, there's a tendency to try and shorten the game up a little bit, and it cost us," said Hernandez, whose team pushed its lead to 46-29 with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter. "We didn't attack at all [in the second half].
"I think we slowed it down a little too much, and stopped attacking the basket like we did in the first half."
Although Montclair made it a two-possession game a minute remaining, it would get no closer than four points.
The Bulldogs could not make a basket, but continued to draw fouls, making just enough late free throws to stay ahead.
"We were trying to slow it down and not rush things, because we were missing our shots," said sophomore guard Andre Alexandrian, who led the Bulldogs with 16 points. "We just stayed positive and made our free throws."
The Bulldogs (13-14; seventh in the Pacific League) jumped out to a 22-5 lead after a first quarter by keeping the tempo fast and frenzied.
They converted nine of 15 attempts from the field in the first eight minutes, while holding the Cavaliers to just five attempts and forcing six turnovers.
Montclair (12-15; fourth in the Mount Baldy League) opened the second quarter with a 6-2 run, prompting a Burbank timeout.
Burbank was able to push the lead back up to 37-22 on a last-second three-point shot by Alexandrian just before the half.
"Our strategy was to focus on ourselves," Hernandez said. "We know they're a good team, but we know its really not what other teams do, its how we come out focused."
Point guard Simon Ovakimian scored 10 points for Burbank. Forward Robert Linda added five points, seven rebounds and two blocks. His offensive rebound off a missed free throw in the final seconds was key in running time off the clock of a game the Bulldogs desperately wanted to end.