Ballard, Crescenta Valley boys’ basketball race past Burbank in league opener

BURBANK — After nearly a month of competing in tournaments, the Crescenta Valley High and Burbank boys' basketball teams were eager to tip off play in the Pacific League.

The Falcons and Bulldogs took off a few days following the conclusion of their final tournaments, ready to see how they would fare in Tuesday's league opener.

Crescenta Valley delivered in a big way, getting a game-high 21 points from Trey Ballard and 14 rebounds from Koko Kechichian to record a 55-46 road win.

"We talked at practice Monday how the first 12 games of the season went by pretty quick," Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian said. "So, we have to treat every league game like it's for the league championship because there are so many good teams.

"I don't think our league gets a whole lot of respect, but we know every team in our league can play the right way and is well-coached. It's a big win, especially starting on the road."

Crescenta Valley (9-4) held a 39-38 lead with 1:48 left in the third quarter before going on a 12-0 run to take a 51-38 lead near the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Ballard, a senior guard, made a three-pointer to give the Falcons a 51-38 lead with 5:04 to go in the final quarter.

"[Burbank] made a run to get back into it and we had to respond," said Ballard, who had 14 second-half points. "We got our confidence back with that run of ours.

"We had to fight hard. I started to make some shots and my teammates also did a lot of good things."

Burbank (11-3) never led Tuesday and fell behind, 11-2, early in the first quarter. The Bulldogs, ranked sixth in CIF Southern Section Division III-AA, couldn't complete their comeback bid after pulling to within 38-37 on a basket by Cameron Sweeten..

"We were nowhere to be found on defense and we just got outplayed," said Burbank Coach Jamayne Potts, who guided the Bulldogs to an appearance in the CIF quarterfinals last season. "We crawled back in the third quarter, but then we started to give up a few too many second-chance points. We just weren't ready to play.

"I think the league will be wide open. It will definitely be a dogfight each night. We learned from tonight that we have to be ready right away."

Crescenta Valley got six points, four assists and three steals from Kechichian and 11 points from Kudzai Kachingwe.

Burbank received 11 points and seven rebounds from Abdullah Kobaissi, eight points from Thomas Clark and seven points from Sweeten.

Crescenta Valley and Burbank will meet again at 5 p.m. Jan. 24 at Crescenta Valley.

The Falcons and Bulldogs will participate in league games at 7 p.m. Friday. Crescenta Valley will meet visiting Pasadena, which won the league title last season. Burbank will travel to face Hoover.