GLENDALE — Glendale High and Hoover played about as tight as a boys’ basketball game can get in the first half of their Pacific League match up Friday.
The third quarter, however, was another story.
Glendale dominated on both ends of the court midway throughout the frame to take control and cruise to a 72-53 victory at Hoover High.
“Our defense stepped up,” Nitros coach Ib Belou said. “We were engaged, not stagnant, started talking. It let us break the game open.
“We woke up in the second half, and we’re fortunate. Hoover played hard.”
Offense led to defense, as the Glendale coach affirmed, and the Nitros, led by their leading scorer David Shamiryan with 31 points, created separation from the Tornadoes, who hung tough with Glendale despite suiting up just six players.
Six lead changes and four ties highlighted the first half in front of a typically raucous Glendale-Hoover crowd. The Tornadoes led, 30-25, going into the break but a score-keeping error made the score, 30-27, at the start of the third.
It had zero effect on the final score, as it turned out.
“We started pushing the ball and not letting them get set up,” said Glendale’s Alex Garibyan, who finished with 14 points. “On defense, we went to a 3-2 zone and stopped their dribble hand-offs. It shut their offense down.”
Elvin Hartoonian’s basket inside tied the score at 36 in the third. Glendale (17-5, 5-3 in league) finished the quarter on a 12-2 run. Hartoonian (10 points) missed his first five attempts but dominated inside throughout, and controlled the boards.
The Nitros carried the momentum into the fourth quarter, where they scored the first 12 points to put the game away with a 62-40 advantage.
Being on the wrong end of a 24-2 stretch was not to be overcome for the Tornadoes.
“We missed some shots and didn’t get back,” said Hoover coach Jack Van Patten, whose team fell to 7-12 and 1-7 in the Pacific League. “They took it to the rack and took advantage of our height. It was a bad stretch.
“The third quarter was horrible. It’s something we try to avoid. We played well in the first half.”
A team that likes to shoot the long ball, Hoover connected on just six of 31 attempts. Karo Darmandzhyan led with 15 points and was followed by Derrick Eliasi with 13 and Davit Pirijanyan with 12.
“Every league game is tough and we respect all opponents, Hoover included,” Belou said about the rivalry. “We always need to bring our A game. Tonight was not our best and we need to be better.”