LA CRESCENTA — As the Glendale High girls’ basketball team stormed off the court in celebration, Nitros coach Tadeh Mardirosian took a seat and breathed a sigh of relief.
With four minutes remaining in a Pacific League girls basketball game Tuesday against Crescenta Valley, Mardirosian saw his Nitros battle back from a seven-point deficit for a five-point lead, but turned the ball over twice on a shot-clock violation and a travel with a minute left.
Then, with 24.8 seconds remaining, the Falcons pulled to within one point off a three-pointer.
However, Glendale fended off Crescenta Valley for a crucial 50-47 victory on the road on the back of 18 points and 13 rebounds from junior Areco Orujyan and 10 points and eight rebounds from senior Ani Boyajyan.
“The key to beating Crescenta Valley was all about our defense,” said Mardirosian, who’s Nitros out-rebounded the Falcons, 35-18. “The offense was generated by our defensive efforts. When we’re posting someone 6-foot-2, 6-foot-5 and 5-foot-11 on the defensive end, we have to make the stops and get the rebounds. Rebounds made the game change to our advantage, giving us opportunities on the offensive end.”
The Nitros, ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division III-AA, outscored the Falcons, 12-2, in a span of 4 minutes, 12 seconds in the fourth quarter and took their first lead, 44-43, with 4:02 left since having a one-point advantage at 5:36 in the second quarter.
“They’re gigantic and we were told that there were two kids that you couldn’t really help off of,” Crescenta Valley coach Jason Perez said. “We made mental mistakes and started helping off of people that we told them to specifically not to. Those are some mental mistakes there.
“Then you make the make the mental mistake when you have a four-point lead. We called a timeout and told the kids we’re not shooting threes — right now, we’re going to make passes and run it in. On the next two possessions: one pass and a three. Whatever the case was, that was the critical point in the fourth quarter.”
Falcons junior Katrina Minassian scored the first two baskets of the fourth quarter for the Falcons for a 41-36 lead before Orujyan’s put-back at 5:06 cut the Falcons advantage to three points.
A put-back basket from Crescenta Valley senior Lily Geck restored the host’s five-point advantage, but a layup from Boyajyan sparked a 10-0 scoring run in the quarter with 4:56 left. Shortly thereafter, Boyajyan assisted on a mid-range shot from Orujyan to cut the Falcons margin to 43-42.
With 4:02 left, Nitros senior Mary Markaryan followed-up a three-point miss from teammate Danielle Sevilla with a layup to give Glendale (15-3, 4-1 in league) it’s first lead, 44-43, since 5:36 of the second quarter.
“We practice a lot with our team and we know what to do when we’re down,” said Orujyan, who scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the second half. “I think, in the last quarter, we really pulled through. We worked as a team, which we lacked throughout the first part of the game. In the fourth quarter, we really brought it together to take the lead and win.”
Markaryan, who finished with 11 points, again drove to the rim and saw her layup bounce off the glass, only for Orujyan to grab the offensive rebound and finish for a 48-43 Glendale lead with 2:43 remaining.
Crescenta Valley (12-7, 2-3) would not let up, however, and after another free throw from Geck cut the Glendale lead to four, the Nitros committed two turnovers to give the hosts a chance with 32 seconds left.
With 24.8 left, Falcons junior Tatiana Minassian pulled up from three to again make it a one-point game, but Markaryan quelled the Crescenta Valley comeback after she side-stepped to the basket for the final score with 14.5 seconds to go.
“Ani Boyajyan led the momentum, with Markaryan the assist factor to Areco, our junior, who we call little because she’s the little baby on the team,” Mardirosian said. “One of the things that I kept telling the team is that [we are] a mature team that no deficit hurts us. The seniors took it upon themselves to chip it away on the offensive end and rebounding to get the win.”
Geck and Minassian each scored 10 points for the Falcons, while Crescenta Valley junior Monique Arezoomanians added nine points. Minassian also recorded four steals and Geck grabbed six rebounds.
Both team’s mounted heavy pressure on defense in the opening quarter, but it was Crescenta Valley that mustered it’s way to an 11-3 lead on a 7-0 scoring run at 3:02.
With 1:11 left in the first, Glendale scored its first basket since the 6:03 mark courtesy of Markaryan, as Crescenta Valley led, 11-5, at the end of the quarter.
Glendale stormed out of the break on an 8-0 run for a 13–11 to start the second period. The Nitros began the frame with two trips to the line before a three-pointer from Stella Simonyan and a put-back layin from Orujyan gave the visitors a brief 13-11 advantage.
A three-pointer from Arezoomanians helped the Falcons regain a one-point lead and broke the host’s scoring drought with 5:00 left in the half.
Geck extended the Falcons’ lead to 19-15 on a three-point play with 3:02 remaining in the second before junior Hannah Tanita scored from the perimeter to push the lead to seven points. A midrange shot from junior Katelyn Coste gave the Falcons a 24-17 halftime lead.
Orujyan helped the Nitros slice the deficit to three points, but back-to-back threes from Arezoomanians and Falcons senior Denise Dayag established a 32-23 lead at 5:17 of the third.
A pair of put-backs from Orujyan and a three-pointer from Sevilla sliced the Falcons’ lead to 37-36 at the end of the third.