LA CRESCENTA — After racking up 23 wins in the regular season, the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team was aiming to add a few more.
The Falcons got that chance, hosting Diamond Ranch in the opening round of the playoffs.
Despite some nervous moments at the end, Crescenta Valley hung on against the visiting Panthers to post a 59-56 win in a CIF Southern Section Division II-A contest Friday.
“It was closer than we liked, right?” Falcons’ Tyler Carlson said. “Coming at home, ranked No. 4 [in the division], it should have been an easier game, but [Diamond Ranch] gave us a really, really good fight.”
Crescenta Valley (24-4) led by as many as 13 points in the second half and had a nine-point cushion to start the fourth.
With 5:37 left in the game, following a free throw by Falcons Danny Khani, the hosts held a comfortable 53-41 advantage. However, after that, Diamond Ranch (16-9) went on a 15-4 run that included three three-pointers. The final of those long balls, which came just after a key put-back by Falcons Chucky Meyer, brought the No. 3 entry from the Hacienda League within one possession with 32 seconds to go.
The Panthers stole the ensuing inbounds pass with 25 seconds to go and launched three shots from beyond the arc looking for a tie. The first barely missed and Diamond Ranch got the rebound. The second clanked off the front of the rim, but skipped out of bounds off Crescenta Valley with six seconds to play.
Panthers Connor Parker got one more look at the basket, but his three-point try only drew air. Falcon Harout Tahanian got the rebound, was fouled with two seconds left and then missed a foul shot, running the clock to zero.
“We were struggling to rebound the ball [down the stretch], so we put Chucky in to try to secure rebounds but we kept giving them up,” Crescenta Valley coach Shawn Zargarian said. “Three-point shots off of offensive rebounds are really scary, so we were obviously fortunate they didn’t make one.”
The victory already gives Falcons their most wins since notching 26 in the 2011-12 campaign.
The win also advances Crescenta Valley to the second round, where, thanks to a coin flip, the Falcons will be on the road Tuesday, where they will face Culver City, who defeated West Torrance, 70-67, in overtime in its opener Friday.
Crescenta Valley’s Andreyas Boghossian led the way with 13 points, all of which came in the pivotal second quarter, in which CV won, 26-14. Alex Zohouralen had 12 points, including six in the fourth quarter with with all coming in the paint in traffic. Carlson added 11 points.
Crescenta Valley, second in the Pacific League, missed its first five shots of the first quarter. At the end of the quarter the score was 14-9 in favor of the visitors from Pomona. Panthers Jared Hernandez matched the Falcons’ output in the stanza by making three of the four three-pointer his team made in the first.
“In the first quarter, we came out a little flat,” Carlson said. “It was the first playoff game and there were a lot of jitters.”
In the second quarter, the Falcons exploded for 26 points to seize control of the contest. Crescenta Valley notched the first six points to take its first lead and would never trail again.
Diamond Ranch stayed hot from the outside, making four more threes, the final of which knotted the score at 28. Crescenta Valley then scored the final seven points of the half off a layup by Boghossian, a hoop from Tahanian and a final blow from Carlson.
In the final seconds, the sophomore stole the ball, dribbled down court and pulled up from the top of the key to drain a three as time expired. The Falcons led, 35-28, at the break.
In the third quarter, the Falcons scored 10 of their 13 points in the paint. The hosts’ lead peaked at 13. Diamond Ranch scored the final four points of the quarter to lead into the dramatic fourth.