LA CAÑADA — There was little breathing room between the St. Francis High and Glendale boys’ basketball teams in the first half of the opening game of the L.A. Court Report Varsity Summer Shootout.
Then, midway into the third quarter, the Nitros started to create separation with a scoring run that gave them a four-point lead. However, the Golden Knights responded.
St. Francis scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to pull away from Glendale and win the opener, 57-46, at St. Francis on Friday.
“I think some of the guys on our team played with a little more of an edge and a chip on their shoulder,” St. Francis coach Todd Wolfson said. “They got excited, too. We just had to remind them that we’re in the summertime and have fun. Let it go, be a little looser and I think we did that.”
Dexter Assa scored 11 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for St. Francis. Kade Harrick also scored 11 points and added six assists for the Golden Knights.
Glendale’s David Shamiryan scored all of the Nitros’ points in their 8-0 run in the second half to finish with 23 points.
“I thought our effort was poor,” Glendale coach Ib Belou said. “We came out flat. We looked tired out there. No excuses. They outplayed us. They outworked us. We didn’t bring it. We didn’t play the way we’re supposed to play to win that game.”
St. Francis took full advantage of the lack of energy that came from Glendale. The Golden Knights outrebounded the Nitros, 36-27, overall and 11-4 off the offensive glass.
“It’s just something we stress every day,” Wolfson said. “Like my guy Kawhi [Leonard] said, ‘The board man gets paid.’ It’s something we’ve always said. Not those exact words, but we live by that and it’s something we continue to do.”
The Golden Knights scored five consecutive points to open the game before Shamiryan scored the Nitros’ final seven points of the first quarter to cut the St. Francis lead to 14-12.
Glendale took its first lead of the game, 19-16, with a three-pointer from Manny Kapoushian at the 4:35 mark of the second quarter. The two teams then went back-and-forth in scoring, but it was St. Francis that had the halftime lead, 26-25.
Shamiryan hit a pair of free-throws and back-to-back three-pointers to cap a Glendale 8-0 run for a 36-32 Nitros lead.
“He’s a competitor,” Belou said. “He wants to win the game. He works hard. His game is evolving, but it takes a team to win a game. We have a lot to do.”
St. Francis responded with a pair of three-point shots to regain the lead, 38-36, on its way to a 21-0 run the stretched from the end of the third quarter into the middle of the fourth.
Glendale ended the St. Francis run with a three-pointer from Andrew Kasparian to cut the St. Francis advantage to 53-39 with 4:18 left.