BURBANK — As hard as it tried, the Burroughs High boys' basketball team couldn't shake Hoover throughout Tuesday's Pacific League contest.
Taking advantage of some inconsistent play by the Indians, the Tornadoes stuck around and drew to within one point with less than five minutes remaining.
League-leading Burroughs was able to respond to the challenge, however, as the Indians sank their free throws in the closing moments and survived to claim a 77-70 victory at home.
"This one hurt, because I thought we played pretty well for most of the game," said Hoover Coach Jack Van Patten, whose team fell to 12-8, 3-5 in league. "We had a chance and I thought we put ourselves in a good position to win the game. I was really happy with the way that we played."
Although the Tornadoes did a good job at limiting the scoring of most of the Burroughs players, there were two Indians they couldn't stop. Transfers Amaad Wainright and Rashid Ewing carried the Burroughs workload and stepped up when the rest of the team was struggling. Wainwright ended with a game-high 32 points to go along with 15 rebounds and five assists. Ewing contributed 26 points — including four three-pointers — and 13 rebounds.
"Those guys were just too much for us," Van Patten said.
Tuesday began the start of the second half of Pacific League play and the Indians (15-5, 7-1) are in the midst of a battle for a league championship. With six games remaining, Burroughs is trying to win its first league crown in 14 years when it won a title in the Foothill League in 2000.
Burroughs is tied with Pasadena (12-8, 7-1) for the league lead. Pasadena defeated Burbank, 60-41, in its Pacific League game Tuesday.
If the Indians hope to challenge for that league championship in the final weeks, coach Adam Hochberg said his team has to be more consistent.
"We had some lapses during the game when I felt we didn't play very well," Hochberg said. "If we hope to compete for that league title, we just can't have those kinds of lapses.
"The physical part of the game will take care of itself; you saw that today. It's just the mental focus that we have to take care of and we have to make sure that we play with energy."
The Tornadoes received solid play from Teo Davidian, who had a team-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds. Teammate Tadeh Essagholian added 14 points and six rebounds.
The two helped Hoover stay in the game in the second half. With the Indians unable to create much separation in the third quarter, the Tornadoes grabbed a 38-37 lead with less than four minutes remaining on a bucket by Argin Sarkisian. The Indians were able to take back the lead and enjoyed a nine-point lead cushion, 49-40, on a Wainright free throw with 2:52 left. During the run, Ewing drained three straight three-pointers.
But Hoover kept coming, trimming the deficit and ending the quarter trailing by just two, 52-50.
"It just took us a while to get into the game," Wainright said. "We were tired at practice [Monday] after the Burbank game on Friday and we were just a little off. But I thought we were able to pick it up once the game got going."
In the fourth quarter, Hoover's Niko Kalpakian made a basket with less than five minutes left to bring Hoover to within one, 62-61. After the Indians built their lead back up to five, the Tornadoes again trimmed the advantage to two, 72-70, following a three-pointer by Kevin Nazari with 38.4 seconds left.
With Hoover forced to foul though, Burroughs was able to sink its free throws to clinch the win.
"Rashid had his best rebounding game and he stepped up and was very aggressive for us," Hochberg said. "Along with his threes, he was driving to the basket and making the plays."