For years, Zareh Avedian and Zareh Zargaryan led a Glendale men’s basketball team that represented the Homenetmen Ararat chapter in the Pan-Armenian Games.
The Hoover High graduates took on the bulk of the scoring, rebounding and leadership roles as the locals traveled to Armenia in hopes of bringing home a gold medal for the first time since 2003.
This year, Avedian and Zargaryan — known as “Big Z” and “Little Z” — have passed the torch to Andre Spight, one of the best players the area has produced in the past two decades.
Spight, who is from Burbank, has accepted the responsibilities that come with being the squad’s top player, and is expecting nothing less than a championship when Glendale travels to Armenia for the seventh annual Pan-Armenian Games.
The opening ceremonies will take place Tuesday and the closing ceremonies are scheduled for Aug. 17.
“Anything short of a championship is a disappointment,” said Spight, a 24-year-old who was named the best player of the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries in 2016, when he led Armenia to the title. “I have high expectations for this year’s team. We have the best team and the best coaching staff. We do it the best over here. We have good people, and a good staff. I think it’s our time to win this right now.
“I feel like my role is to be the best player on the court, off the court. Just to help these guys. To lead us to victory every time.”
Avedian, whose 49-point, 20-rebound championship-game performance propelled Glendale to the 2003 title, has been awed by Spight.
“Andre is the person who can control the game, take over the game,” Avedian said. “When you want to win a championship, you need to have a person who can take over the game. At the end of the day, he has been a Division I basketball player. He has played on the international stage. He has played in the G League of the NBA. He is going to get a lot of attention. He’s going to open up a lot of shots for us.
“We all know he’s the guy. At the end of the day, we have to change our roles. Give him the ball and let him create for everyone else.”
Zargaryan, who was a part of the 2015 Glendale team that took bronze, agreed with Avedian’s assessment that Spight’s presence will open opportunities for his teammates, which include local grads Narbeh Ebrahamian (Crescenta Valley), Teo Davidian (Hoover), Samson Injigulyan (Hoover) and Azad Galustian (Glendale).
“He can take over the scoring load with ease,” Zargaryan said. “He can light you up in a half, in an entire game or in a quarter so quickly that you can’t keep up. The guy is explosive.”
Barsegh “BJ” Karamanian has taken over the coaching responsibilities for the Glendale team, and with the collection of talented shooters, he plans on playing an up-tempo game.
Karamanian said he will find out his team’s schedule and opponents when they arrive in Armenia on Monday.
“We have very unique talent on the team,” Karamanian said. “We’ve adopted a philosophy that we want to get quick baskets, within the first six or seven seconds, and then if that’s not there, get organized and go through some rotations.”
Karamanian will likely start Avedian and Zargarian in the front court, with Ebrahamian, Davidian and Spight taking on the guard and small forward positions. All five presumed starters played at the collegiate level.
Avedian didn’t think he would be on the Glendale team after his last run in 2015. He’s now 38, a husband and a father to Andrew, a 14-month-old who might follow in his dad’s footsteps. But he’s taken on the role of being a role model to the younger players on the team, as well as with his son.
“I didn’t think I would be playing four years ago,” Avedian said. “I am still playing at a competitive level. I am still able to run around with these young guys. At the end of the day, it’s basketball, it’s fun. If you don’t have to stop, why stop?”
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