The road to the Pacific League boys’ basketball league championship for more than a decade and a half has gone through Pasadena High, winner of the last 15 titles.
But this year, Crescenta Valley is vying to earn its first title in six years.
It took extra time, but host Crescenta Valley clawed its way to a 73-70 overtime league victory Tuesday, hanging a rare league defeat on the visiting Bulldogs.
“It felt amazing. That was the best win of the year,” Falcons center Chuck Meyer said.
The win draws Crescenta Valley (20-3, 8-1 in league) even with Pasadena atop the league standings. It also means the Falcons have a clear path to at least a share of their first league title since 2014, when they shared the championship with Pasadena.
The Falcons victory snapped a 35-game Pacific League winning streak by Pasadena, which had not lost since going down in defeat to Crescenta Valley on Jan. 3, 2018. Making Tuesday’s win all the more impressive was the fact that the Bulldogs (15-7, 8-1) had beaten Crescenta Valley by 17 points in the season’s league opener for both schools.
“First of all you’ve got to take off your hat to Pasadena,” Falcons coach Shawn Zargarian said. “Beating them here, there, or anywhere is always a challenge.”
The score was knotted at 65 going into overtime. Then, in the early stages of the extra period, Pasadena scored five of the first six points, all by Dutch Richard, to take a 70-66 lead.
However, the Bulldogs would not score again.
“We’ve always hung our hats on being a great defensive team,” Zargarian said.
From there, Tyler Carlson made a jumper. After a Pasadena miss, Alec Voskanian was fouled hard under the basket and made both free throws to tie it at 70.
The Falcons’ defense then buckled down, forcing a three-point miss by Pasadena late in the shot clock. Meyer ended up with the ball and was fouled with under a minute to go. It was the first time either of the teams reached the bonus and Meyer cashed in, hitting the front end of a one-and-one to pull ahead.
The Bulldogs called a timeout with 46 seconds to go and had their chances. Zavior Smith missed a jumper, but Pasadena got the rebound. The Bulldogs missed again, and the ball then pin-balled among several players before Smith was called for traveling, as he fought for the ball, lying on the court with eight seconds to go.
On the inbound pass, Meyer was fouled hard, sending the senior to the floor. But he got up and sank two free throws at the other end with five seconds to go, sealing the win. A final Pasadena desperation heave did not come close to the rim as time expired.
“[At the line I was thinking] just use my form and knock down these free throws,” Meyer said. “I’ve got to have my team’s back.”
Carlson led all scorers with 32 points, including the last 10 Falcons points of the third quarter. Danny Khani had 15 points, Meyer and Allen Boghossian each had 11 points and Voskanian finished with four.
Crescenta Valley had trailed by as many as five in the fourth quarter. Pasadena’s Devon Lewis scored in close to make it 65-60 in the final two minutes, but the Falcons defense would allow any more points in regulation.
In the final minute of the fourth, Carlson sank two free throws. Then, following a Smith miss, the Falcons came down the court and Boghossian rose up and drained a three-pointer to tie the score. Crescenta Valley had a chance to win in regulation, but Carlson’s short jumper in the final seconds was cleanly blocked by Bulldogs Au’dante Bailey.
“We came into the fourth quarter with the lead [51-46] and we were feeling really comfortable,” Carlson said. “We got a little complacent for a second [and] they took the lead by five, so we were down 10 in that quarter, but we just rallied.”
Pasadena was led by Lewis, who had 19 points. Richard and Davian Brown had 18 apiece and Smith added 13.
With five games to go, both teams now have a clear path to at least a share of the league crown.