LA CRESCENTA — The Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball program had already made history by hosting its first state playoff contest earlier in the week. Winning that contest was also a first.
But the Falcons were not done making history.
Despite trailing for most of the contest against Santa Barbara, host Crescenta Valley came roaring back to force overtime, then dominated in the extra period, to earn a 71-59 win Thursday in a CIF State Southern California Regional Division III second-round game.
“It was crazy,” Falcons Andreyas Boghossian said. “We kept fighting and it started falling for us. We just started flowing on offense. We got stops on defense. We just pulled it together like we always do.”
Crescenta Valley (28-5) advances to the regional semifinals for the first time in school history. The Falcons are one win away from tying the mark for most victories in a single season,.
Crescenta Valley will be on the road at 6 p.m. Saturday to face No. 2 seed Granada Hills Charter, which defeated Rancho Buena Vista, 78-66, in its second-round regional Thursday.
“You can’t put anything by this group of guys that I have this year,” Crescenta Valley coach Shawn Zargarian said. “They don’t get rattled. They seem like a veteran bunch. It looked like the chips were against us and we were down big, but we fought and we rallied.”
With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the No. 6 seed Falcons trailed Santa Barbara 52-44, before the tide turned.
Falcons’ Harout Tahanian scored on a put-back. Boghossian hit two free throws before Santa Barbara (29-5) missed the front end of a one-and-one. The rebound off the miss was slapped backward and was recovered by Tyler Carlson, who immediately scored.
Then, still trailing, 52-50, after the Dons missed another front end of a one-and-one, Falcons’ Chucky Meyer made one of two free throws with 27 seconds left.
The visitors then hit one of two from the line to lead by two with seconds to play. Boghossian took the ball and drove all the way in for a layup to tie it at 53. In the waning seconds, the Dons missed a shot at the horn, sending the game to overtime.
“I just wanted to come out and make sure I had another game,” said Boghossian, a senior.
The extra session was dominated by Crescenta Valley, as Santa Barbara faded and was thinned out by foul trouble.
At the start of overtime, each team hit two free throws. Then, with 3:25 left, Boghossian sank two free throws and the Falcons took their first lead since 7-5. That ignited a 10-0 run and the game was in hand. The overtime period finished with a 6-2 CV run that included a one-handed slam by Tahanian.
“They broke at the end,” Falcons Alex Zohouralen said. “They were doing good in the first half, but [Santa Barbara] broke at the end.”
Crescenta Valley, the No. 6 seed, was led in scoring by Carlson with 20 points, including eight in the second quarter. Boghossian finished with 19. Fellow senior Zohouralen chipped in 15 points. The final Falcon in double digits was Tahanian, who had 11 points, all of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Santa Barbara was led in scoring by Bryce Warrecker with 16. Jasper Johnson, son of actor Don Johnson, who was in attendance, had 14 points.
Santa Barbara came out strong in the first quarter, executing its offense crisply enough to come away with a 21-10 advantage. In the second quarter, the Crescenta Valley defense started to get a handle on the Dons and limited the visitors to just nine points.
“It’s all about defense,” Zohouralen said. “It’s not even about scoring. The scoring will come. It’s all about defense.”