BURBANK — About all that was absent from Monday evening’s wild Pacific League boys’ basketball contest between visiting Crescenta Valley High and Burroughs was a miracle shot.
And yet, that was almost a reality.
A half-court heave from Falcons senior forward Eric Patten hit the bottom of the net and concluded a frenzied contest that resulted with a thrilling 82-80 victory for the Indians.
“These types of games are always fun and always exciting. We knew this was going to be a battle with Crescenta Valley,” Indians Coach Adam Hochberg said. “They’ve been near the top of the league standings for years and if we want to get there, we need to win these types of games.”
With the victory, the Indians improved to 11-4 overall and 3-0 in league and moved into a first-place tie with reigning champion Pasadena (8-7, 3-0), who they will host Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The defeat sent the Falcons (8-7, 2-1) into a tie for third with Muir (5-7, 2-1), which it just defeated Friday.
Burroughs, which led at the end of three quarters, 59-51, fell behind by four points midway through the fourth and did not retake the lead until 79-77 after an offensive rebound and put back from junior forward Jakob Davis, who was fouled on the play and sank his follow-up free throw, with 43.9 seconds remaining in the fourth.
The bucket came on Davis’ lone field goal try and rebound of the entire contest was set up on a missed jumper from senior guard Amaad Wainright, who tallied 17 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
The Falcons did not fold after the field goal and instead answered with an acrobatic response when Patten (game-high 28 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks) connected on a four-footer as his feet were being taken out from underneath him.
Like Davis, Patten connected on his free throw as the Falcons retook an advantage at 80-79 with 29.7 seconds left.
Again, another unlikely hero stepped up for Burroughs, this time in sophomore Steven Hubbell (13 points).
After the Indians inbounded and brought the ball upcourt, Hubbell was caught near the corner of the court with two Falcons defenders draped all over him.
As the Falcons reached in to force a change of possession, Hubbell danced along the baseline and then sliced into the lane and converted a layup with 14.1 seconds left to put Burroughs up for good, 81-80.
“I was trapped and I had to make sure I wouldn’t turn the ball over,” Hubbell said. “As soon as I found an opening, I went for it.”
The string of heroics ended for the Falcons, who missed a jumper and then had to foul senior forward Rashid Ewing, who converted one of two free throws with 3.1 seconds left, which left a last-second shot from Patten that came up just a bit short.
“Crescenta Valley made the game hard because they made us have to get back on defense and they hustled for all the loose balls,” said Ewing, who finished with a team-high 21 points and seven rebounds. “It was a tough game.”
The Indians showed their above-the-rim excitement early when Wainwright slammed home a tomahawk jam off a steal and assist from Hubbell with 4:25 left in a first quarter the Indians would ultimately lead, 15-12.
To its credit, Crescenta Valley grinded its way back behind Patten and sharp-shooting from guards Berj Krikorian (23 points) and Kyle Currie (14 points).
“Berj has come into his own since the Glendale game and Kyle was great and Arin [Oramessian], a JV call-up, he had a great game,” Falcons Coach Shawn Zaragarian said. “We received a lot of well-rounded efforts.”
The Falcons eventually led, 29-24, after a turnaround jumper from Patten with 2:11 in the second quarter before eventually settling for a 35-34 halftime lead.
Burroughs owned the third quarter, winning the frame, 25-16, and taking a 59-51 advantage on a buzzer-beating layup from Steven Sanchez.
Crescenta Valley battled back again, this time with a 13-4 run capped on a step-back jumper from Krikorian with 5:16 remaining in the fourth that gave the Falcons a 64-63 lead.
Overall, there were six ties and 14 lead changes.
“There’s not much you can say to the guys afterward to make them feel better,” Zargarian said. “I’m definitely proud of their effort. They battled. I’ve played this game and coached it for a while. It was a great game and maybe the best thing about the Pacific League is that you’re back out there in two days and don’t have too much time this think about this.”