Free throws lift Hoover

Charles Rich

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Practicing free-throw shooting hasn’t gone ignored.

For the members of the Hoover High girls’ basketball team, that very factor became a blessing. The Tornadoes have spent the past two months working on their shooting from the line just in case it might be needed at an opportunistic time.

That time came Tuesday night, as Hoover began its season by making all six of its free throws in the final 35 seconds to record a 50-45 win against Franklin in a pool-play game of the Hoover Tip-Off Classic.

The Tornadoes trailed, 45-44, with 35 seconds left before Nela Sarkissian made four free throws and Kianna Settles added two to dispatch the Panthers.

“With all the practice we’ve done with it, it saved us in the last couple of minutes,” said Hoover first-year Coach Martik Ghookasian, who took over the program from Jack Van Patten. “I thought we put [Franklin] on the line a lot in the first half, and I told our players not to foul in the second half.

“I guess we got that accomplished. I guess our shooters were focused and confident going to the line [in the last minute.”

Sarkissian gave Hoover a 46-45 by converting on a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left. Settles then extend Hoover’s lead to 48-45 with two shots with 12 seconds left before Sarkissian made two more free throws with nine seconds remaining.

“I felt confident that we could make those shots, and I would have been surprised had we missed,” said Ghookasian, whose team will take on La Cañada (1-0) in another tournament contest at 7:45 p.m. today.

Sarkissian paced the Tornadoes with a team-high 16 points and four steals. Twelve of her points came in the second half. Settles had 11 points and nine rebounds.

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