Burbank High teams end long title droughts to highlight year

This is the fourth in a four-part series looking back on the sports accomplishments of the four local high schools during the 2012-13 year. This installment is Burbank High:

Coming into the 2012-13 campaign, the Burbank High girls' volleyball, softball and baseball teams had endured decades of futility when it came to winning league championships.

The droughts were so lengthy, in fact, that the volleyball program hadn't claimed a title in 37 years, the softball team had gone 26 years without a crown and the baseball team was on its 22nd year without a title. All of those championships came in the old Foothill League.

However, all three winless streaks were broken, as the Bulldogs squads enjoyed championships in the Pacific League.

The three titles would be all that Burbank would enjoy during the campaign.

The title push began in the fall when the volleyball squad tied for the league crown behind senior setter Tyler Brooks.

Brooks proved a steady force for the Bulldogs, who shared the league crown with Arcadia after the teams split their two league contests. Brooks definitely made her presence known on the court, finishing with 359 assists, 151 digs and 52 aces to go along with 22 kills.

For her efforts, Brooks was named the Pacific League Player of the Year.

Although the Burbank football team didn't win a league title, the Bulldogs did finish second to a talented Muir team that went on to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division quarterfinals. The Bulldogs finished 7-4, 6-1 in league, and fell in the first round of the playoffs to Norwalk, 49-14.

The squad was paced by dynamic sophomore running back James Williams and reliable senior offensive lineman Steven Kim.

As a dangerous weapon for Burbank, Williams made an instant impact with the varsity team after playing on the freshman squad the year before. Along with earning the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year award, he was also an All-CIF and All-Area first-team selection. On the season, Williams had 133 carries for 1,443 yards (10.8 yards a carry) and 17 touchdowns.

Kim was a stalwart on the Burbank defense, earning him the Pacific League Defensive Player of the Year honor, along with All-CIF and All-Area first-team accolades. Kim had 65 tackles and 12 sacks.

Another team that enjoyed success in the fall was the boys' water polo squad, which boasted three All-CIF Southern Section Division V selections. Senior standout Zack Card was a first-team selection, while fellow senior co-captain Sean Savoy was a second-team pick and goalkeeper Derek Baer garnered a third-team spot.

Card tallied 61 goals on the season, 18 more than anybody on the team, to go along with 34 assists, 11 field blocks and 52 steals. Savoy had nine field blocks and added 38 goals and 24 assists. Both were also all-league first-team selections and Card was an All-Area second-team pick. Baer finished with 123 saves, 24 assists and 16 steals.

With the three paving the way, Burbank went 14-8 and enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in program history. Along with finishing second in the Pacific League behind Glendale, the Bulldogs won their CIF Division V opener against Arlington, 14-10, before falling to La Serna, 14-10, in the quarterfinals.

Another solid fall performance was turned in by junior girls' golfer Irene Maemura. Maemura advanced to the CIF-Women's Southern California Golf Assn. Championship at the Golf Club at Rancho California, where she carded an 82.

Maemura, an All-Area selection, was Pacific League runner-up to Crescenta Valley's Jocelyn Chia.

In cross-country, the Burbank boys' team placed third and the girls were fourth in the Pacific League and both advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I preliminaries.

It was another runner-up league effort in girls' tennis, as the Bulldogs finished behind the Falcons. In the Division II playoffs, Burbank fell in the first round to Beverly Hills, 11-7.

The doubles team of Ashley Basco and Meredy Gharabegi, the runner-up in league, did well in the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center. Following a first-round bye, the duo earned a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Nana Akahoshi and Nancy Liang (No. 2 from the Almont League) of San Gabriel before suffering a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Sachi Carlson and Sara Khattab (No. 2 from the Bay League) of Peninsula in the third round.

Both of Burbank's basketball teams were able to qualify for the postseason during the winter season.

The girls placed third in league, just one game behind co-champions Arcadia and Burroughs. The Bulldogs defeated El Toro, 53-41, in the first round of the Division I-A playoffs before losing to Canyon Springs, 85-43, in the second round.

On the boys' side, Burbank got back to the playoffs with a fourth-place finish in league after missing out the previous two seasons. The Bulldogs then upset No. 15 Loara, 55-43, in the first round of the Division I-A playoffs.

Burbank then played well against No. 2 Santa Monica in the second round, but couldn't pull off the upset in a 58-46 loss. Santa Monica went on to win the Division I-A championship.

In girls' soccer, Burbank placed fourth in league and earned a spot in the playoffs. The Bulldogs fell in its opening Division III postseason match at Arroyo Grande, 2-0.

The biggest team accomplishments turned in during the spring season involved the Burbank softball and baseball teams.

In softball, the Bulldogs won a league title for the first time since 1987. In the Division III playoffs, No. 2 Burbank won its opener against El Rancho, 7-2, before losing in the second round to Sunny Hills, 8-7, in eight innings.

The team was paced by sophomore pitcher Caitlyn Brooks, who earned All-CIF and All-Area Player of the Year accolades as well as being named the Pacific League Player of the Year. In the circle, she was 25-3 with a 0.78 earned-run average with 309 strikeouts and just 25 walks. At the plate, she batted .526 with 40 hits, 35 runs batted in, seven doubles, 12 home runs and 42 runs scored.

For the baseball team, it claimed a crown for the first time since 1991 after tying Crescenta Valley for the title. In the Division II playoffs, Burbank was defeated in the first round by Arroyo Grande, 6-1.

Senior shortstop Dylan Mersola, senior utility Ricky Perez and senior pitcher Angel Villagran all earned first-team all-league honors. In addition, Villagran was an All-Area first-team honoree and Perez and Mersola were named on the second team.

Also enjoying its share of success during the spring was the boys' volleyball squad. The Bulldogs tied for third in league and qualified for the playoffs in just the second year of varsity competition after reviving its program. Burbank Coach Patrick McMenamin was named the league's co-coach of the year with Bernie Wendling of Claremont, which shared a league title with Burroughs.

First-team all-league pick John You, a senior outside hitter, led the Bulldogs with 144 kills to go along with 121 digs, 15 assists, 12 blocks and nine aces.

Burbank lost in the first round of the Division II playoffs to El Segundo, 25-17, 25-21, 25-17.

In track and field, Burbank had three athletes who earned Pacific League championships.

Senior Andy Hurtado won the boys' discus with a 143-feet-10 inch effort. Hurtado was also runner-up in the shot put with a CIF Southern Section Division I qualifying toss of 43-3 1/2.

Senior Dennis Palacio was both a champion in one event and a qualifier in another. Palacio held off Pasadena's Walter Martinez to win the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 40.87 seconds. He also advanced by taking second in the long jump in 20-3.

Junior Chris Miranda tied Burroughs' Matt Schwartz in the boys' pole vault with a 13-9 mark. Miranda needed fewer tries and thus won the title.

In boys' tennis, the doubles team of Clayton Pauff and Keon Park was the league runner-up and the tandem advanced to the third round of the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament at the University of Redlands. In the first round, the Bulldogs defeated Upland's Sumit Patel and Caleb Kulaska, 6-1, 6-2, before taking out Sierra League champions from Ayala Nick Pangfoubanh and Wesley Lerg, 6-2, 6-2. Unfortunately for the pair, it lost in the third round to Palm Desert's No. 1 duo of Cameron McDonald and Brad Cummins, 6-0, 6-2.

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