SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Needing a spark of its own while being torched by archrival Hoover High on Friday night, the Glendale High boys' basketball team ignited in the second half behind a stunning Tornadoes implosion.
A technical foul called on the Tornadoes early in the third quarter for an overblown reaction to a run-of-the-mill foul, at the time, appeared to be no more than a speed bump for the hot-shooting visitors. Instead, it turned out to be the turning point for a seismic shift of momentum that carried the host Nitros from a double-digit deficit to a 71-58 blowout Pacific League win.
"It was a big turning point because it helped us with two free throws and we had the ball and scored," said Glendale's Anthony Tahmazian, who led the Nitros with 21 points. "At halftime, we noticed how bad we were doing in the first half and we just got pumped up. We wanted to win real bad."
Hoover (4-14, 0-7 in league) had outplayed Glendale (8-11, 3-4) during the first half and had bumped its six-point halftime lead up to a game-high 11 by the 5:45 mark of the third period on a three-pointer by Reni Nazari.
On the very next Hoover possession, Artin Mirzakhanyan was fouled by Glendale's Steven Gasparian (nine points) and had some words for Gasparian while initiating some physical contact. There was no retaliation and it was broken up quickly by the referees, but the incident also seemed to completely break up the roll Hoover was on.
The Nitros got a quick five points out of the technical foul — with Tahmazian converting two free throws and Gasparian sinking a three on the ensuing possession — but that was just the beginning of the back-breaking run Glendale would put on Hoover, which would go without another field goal until there were just 65 seconds remaining in the game.
"It was bad," Hoover Coach Jack Van Patten said of the Tornadoes' second-half collapse. "They got on a roll, they hit some threes, we couldn't get going and it just kind of snowballed on us.
"We should be tougher than that."
The Nitros' run began with 11 unanswered points to tie the game at 45 at the 4:08 mark. The tying basket came on a Sevan Pogosyan layup off a steal and assist by Gasparian, one of five turnovers committed by Hoover in the critical third period.
Overall, the Nitros' third-quarter run extended to 22-1 and Glendale went into the fourth quarter up, 56-46.
"In the third quarter, we got up and started to defend a little bit and that led to some easy baskets and we caught fire really quickly," Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said. "It was just night and day. We just stood around and watched them shoot the first half and in the second half we put the clamps down."
Pogosyan, who had 14 points, hit a long two-pointer and Linden Anderson scored on a putback to keep Glendale's run going in the early stages of the fourth quarter. Tahmazian scored four points in a row on a breakaway layup and a short turnaround jumper to push the lead over 20 by the 3:00 mark.
While not to the extent that the Nitros dominated to close the second half, Hoover was in control of the game early thanks to lights out shooting from behind the arc. The Tornadoes, who were led by 16 points from Teo Aghazarian and 12 apiece from Kyle Bernardo and Aden Ziraki, made 10 threes in the first half alone.
"We had a real tough first half where Hoover just shot the lights out," Snodgress said. "We were too soft, we were too complacent. We wanted to break out of the zone, but if the other team isn't missing any shots and we don't go out and defend, its' not going to work."