GLENDALE — It was a good year for the three local Pacific League boys’ basketball teams, as Hoover, Crescenta Valley and Glendale high each qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs.
Hoover finished in a three-way tie for second with Burroughs and Crescenta Valley and had four all-league selections, led by Coach of the Year honors for first-year Coach Henrik Sardarbegian and co-Most Valuable Player billing for senior point guard Shara Babakhanians.
“It’s cool, especially on the first year,” said Sardarbegian, who previously assisted former Tornadoes Coach Vigen Jilizian before succeeding him last spring. “What felt better was us actually being success- ful.”
The Tornadoes went 16-12 on the year with a 9-5 league mark and made a second consecutive run to the second round of the playoffs.
“Even though I was an assistant the previous years, it’s pretty difficult to walk in expecting the kids to grasp whatever I had to say,” said Sardarbegian, who was assisted by Azad Galustian and Mher Torosyan. “It’s an overall team effort. Without the kids and without my assistants, I would never have been able to do what I did.”
Babakhanians had a major hand in the Tornadoes’ success, leading the team in scoring with 27.5 points per game during the regular season and averaging 23 points in the playoffs.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but it feels really good, just the fact that I was a part of it,” Babakhanians said. “I think I made the team better since I was being double teamed and everything. It gave other players a better chance to score.”
Babakhanians shared the MVP award with Keion Bell of the league-champion Pasadena Bulldogs.
“Shara being MVP — I’m a lot happier about that than my [award],” said Sardarbegian of Babakhanians, who posted regular-season per-game averages of 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists, while leading the team in three-pointers made per game with 2.8. “It’s a testament to all the hard work he put in this year.
“He’s a really nice kid off the court, as well, and I think some of the league’s coaches realized that it’s not just a good basketball player with Shara, there’s a lot more to that.”
Crescenta Valley and Glendale, which finished league in fifth place, each had a representative on the all-league first team.
Clay Sierra continued his progression into one of the finest post players in the area, while also displaying deft outside touch and athleticism in the open court. The Falcons senior averaged 19.5 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
Derenik Kaloosi earned a first-team nod after posting averages of 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the Nitros, while converting at a 40% clip form the field.
Second-team honorees included senior Falcons forward Eric Strangis, who averaged 11 points and four rebounds per game, senior Nitros guard David Mansuryan, who averaged 13.4 points per game, while leading his team with 87 total assists, and Hoover senior guard Shara Davoodi, the Tornadoes assist leader with an average of 5.5 per game to go along with a scoring average of 15.3 points per game.
Honorable mentions were given to Crescenta Valley’s Narbeh Ebrahimian (averages of eight points a game, four rebounds and four assists), Glendale’s Narek Ayvagyan (7.6 points per game) and Hoover’s Derik Ziraky (averages of 5.4 points per game and 7.8 rebounds).
“Everything this year went through Clay and Eric, our two primary guys, and obviously Clay carried a lot of that scoring load,” said Coach Shawn Zargarian, who coached the Falcons to an 18-10 season record (9-5 in league) and a wild-card playoff victory over Los Altos. “Narbeh was our point guard and coach on the floor and Eric was a four-year varsity player who understands the game and can score, rebound and play defense.”
Glendale finished 13-14 on the year (8-6 in league) and was toppled by Troy in a wild-card playoff game.
“We averaged about 60 points per game this season and [Kaloosi, Mansuryan and Ayvagyan] were about 28 of that,” Nitros Coach Steve Snodgress said. “When you consider their scoring, and then you throw in David Mansuryan’s assists, most good things that happened to us ran through those three guys.”
GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.