BURBANK — With a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Crescenta Valley High guard Tyler Carlson pulled up for a three-pointer and scored to give the Falcons some breathing room in the SoCal Christmas Classic against Army-Navy Academy.
The teams dueled throughout the tournament’s Gold Bracket championship game, with lead changes fluctuating from quarter to quarter.
The Falcons senior scored 12 points in the final quarter as Crescenta Valley triumphed, 70-60, over Army-Navy to win the championship at the former Bellarmine-Jefferson High gym on Monday.
“I think our guys just showed a lot of grit,” Crescenta Valley coach Shawn Zargarian said. “Basketball is a game of ups and downs, like a roller coaster. It’s all about who makes the last run and who can keep their composure, make shots and defend it. In the end, our guys were able to do that tonight.”
With a two-point lead with 4:17 remaining, Carlson extended the Falcons advantage to 61-57 after a mid-range shot.
The Warriors pulled to within three points with 2:33 left, but Carlson responded and drained consecutive shots as the Falcons pulled away for a 69-60 lead.
“My mindset kind of changed a little bit,” said Carlson of the fourth quarter. “I was getting everyone involved and they were picking me up the whole game. I was missing shots, but I knew eventually they would start falling. Coach said shoot the ball, so I shot the ball and happened to hit a few.”
Carlson, who was named the tournament most valuable player, finished with 22 points with five three-pointers to go along with seven rebounds.
“A couple of those threes he made from deep were big,” Zargarian said. “We kept encouraging him from the bench. He has the green light. Wherever he’s comfortable from, whenever he’s ready to go, he’s got to let it go. He’s got ice in his veins. He’s not rattled by the moment or the situation.”
Falcons sophomore Allen Boghossian contributed with 16 points and guard Armen Avaness had nine points.
“For a sophomore to be able to make big-time shots in the championship says a lot about him,” said Zargarian of Boghossian, who strung together a trio of threes in the second quarter.
Army-Navy guard Cobey Harraway led his squad with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Warriors forward Albert Pichardo scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Falcons stormed out to a 14-2 lead at 4:07 in the first quarter as it’s defense forced the Warriors to miss their first four shots from the field.
After a Carlson three with 2:38 left in the first for a 17-5 Crescenta Valley lead, Army-Navy went on a 10-0 run to pull within two points before Carlson made a basket to close the quarter.
“We got a lot more open looks in the first half than we did in the second,” Army-Navy coach Bobby Huggins said. “It helps when the ball moves, and sometimes, we ended up trying to dribble a little more.”
The Warriors took a one-point lead with 5:04 to go in the half before Boghossian drained three consecutive three-pointers and assisted on another from distance to pull the Falcons ahead, 31-25, with three minutes remaining in the second.
“I think the defense that we were playing was giving them more open shots and we weren’t closing out to where we wanted to,” Huggins said. “This is why you play tournaments like this — for different styles and learning.”
Army-Navy responded with another 10-0 run and closed the half with a three-point shot from Harraway for a 35-33 halftime advantage.
Crescenta Valley opened the second half with a long-range shot from Avaness to briefly lead, 36-35.
Army-Navy regained the lead and extended it to 39-36 with a lay-in from Harraway before Falcons senior Danny Khani tied it at 39 with a three at 5:40 in the third.
The Falcons went on a 7-0 run midway into the third for a 46-40 lead as the Warriors underwent a scoring drought lasting 3 minutes, 17 seconds.
Army-Navy battled back to tie it at 50 with 42 seconds left before Boghossian scored on a mid-range jumper and gave the Falcons a two-point lead to end the quarter.