LA CRESCENTA — While the athleticism and talent of the Pasadena High boys' basketball team was no surprise to Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian, something did catch the veteran off-guard in the team's meeting Friday evening.
The Bulldogs simply outworked the Falcons in a 75-51 victory in the Pacific League home-opener for Crescenta Valley.
The defeat was the worse suffered by Crescenta Valley (7-5, 1-1 in league) versus Pasadena since an 86-51 loss on Jan. 24, 2007.
"Pasadena just played harder than us tonight," said Zargarian, whose squads have dropped four of the last five contests against the Bulldogs by double digits. "They just out-competed us. I will say it's pretty embarrassing to come out on your home court and play with this type of an effort."
Pasadena junior Bryce Hamilton led all players with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Darius Mason added 18 points and Darius Brown chipped in 14 points for the defending league champion Bulldogs (9-5, 2-0).
Journey Shank was the Falcons' only scorer in double digits and finished with 11 points.
The contest slipped away from Crescenta Valley in the second quarter.
Hamilton enjoyed his most productive quarter with 10 points and the Bulldogs won the second period, 26-8.
While the Falcons' defense struggled, the offense never got in sync as Crescenta Valley committed five turnovers and hit only two of 15 field-goal attempts.
Yet, it wasn't a lack of scoring that bothered Zargarian afterward.
"I don't think our guys understand what playing hard is," the coach said. "Playing hard is being able to defend Bryce the way we had talked about in our scouting report. Playing hard means keeping them off the glass. Playing hard means getting back on defense. We did none of that stuff tonight, none of it."
Crescenta Valley won the third quarter, 16-15, but was outscored, 20-14, in the final frame.
Crescenta Valley's best quarter was the first, as the Falcons hit on three of six three-point attempts and bounced to an 11-6 advantage on a jumper from Kudzai Kachingwe (six points) with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Pasadena Coach Tony Brooks took a timeout immediately following the shot and his CIF Southern Section Division I-A No. 11-ranked Bulldogs responded with an 8-2 quarter-closing spurt to take a 14-13 lead after one period.
The magnitude of the victory was not lost on Brooks, who's coached at Pasadena as an assistant or head coach for 21 years.
"We stuck to our game plan and executed methodically," Brooks said. "That's the struggle in convincing kids who want to be spectacular on every play to just be efficient and execute.
"When you're playing a Shawn Zargarian team, you always expect them to work hard and so you have to elevate your game. I have so much respect for him that I always have to bring my best because I know he's going to do the same."