SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Entering Friday evening's rivalry game, the Glendale High girls' basketball team had been battling inconsistency, while Hoover had been struggling consistently throughout the season.
Upon exiting Friday's Pacific League contest, both squads had, at the least, found glimpses of just what they were looking for, as the Nitros showed how potent their offense can be in pulling away for a 48-27 win over a Tornadoes squad that was game early.
"We were able to make some adjustments at halftime," said Nitros Coach Tania Adary, whose team improved to 11-8 and 3-4 in league. "I think they kinda just got going in the second half."
Glendale held an 18-13 halftime lead over Hoover (1-13, 0-7), but began to pull away in the third with seven straight points to end the quarter. The Nitros caught fire in the fourth, however, hitting six of their first seven shots, including four three-pointers, to put the game away.
"We came out with energy," said first-year Tornadoes Coach Stan Watson. "We talked about what the game was about, how it wasn't about the Xs and Os, it was about the rivalry.
"I thought the ladies played hard, they gave us a good effort."
On the strength of a Kariz Alberto jumper and a Sharis Rostamian three-pointer, the Tornadoes jumped out to a 5-0 lead. On defense, a double-team of Glendale's Stella Ghazarian worked well in the early going, even if Glendale came back for an 11-6 lead at first quarter's end, as Keasha Luna scored Glendale's first six points.
"I think we did a good job double-teaming Stella," Watson said. "It worked, we were right there, we were in place and I think our turnovers just got us."
Serah Mirzaeian had 11 points, six rebounds and three assists for Glendale, while Ghazarian had 11 points and five boards and Luna finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Hoover was led by 10 points from Amatia Golbodaghi and seven from Rostamian.
Glendale's 19 of 64 shooting (30%) for the game was hardly lights out, but it was drastically better than Hoover's 10 of 50 woes that were best exemplified during a period in between a Rostamian three with 3:31 left in the third and an Allison Zalin putback in the fourth with 2:18 remaining in the game. In between then, the Tornadoes had just two points — both on free throws.
Meanwhile, Glendale was in the midst of a 27-2 run. Mirzaeian hit a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the third to kick off a streak in which the Nitros sank four straight shots, followed by a Ghazarian two with her foot on the three-point line, a Jessica Diaz three and another Mirzaeian three.
"It's like a domino effect," Ghazarian said.
In all, Glendale outscored Hoover, 30-14, in the second half, with the Tornadoes scoring the final seven points of the game when it was far out of reach.
"We came in at half and we literally told each other we have to pick it up," Ghazarian said. "We just came out and we wanted it."
And Hoover could do little to stop it.
"They started hitting their shots and there was nothing we could do after that," Watson said.
With Friday's game marking the end of the first half of league play, Hoover finds itself still searching for its first league win, but nonetheless hopeful that its effort against the Nitros was example of the progress its making.
"We're still looking for that elusive win, but no mercy-rule [tonight]," Watson said.
For Glendale, it was an important rebound game after a two-game losing streak that saw it falter late in a heartbreaking loss against Crescenta Valley on Tuesday. Going forward, with a big game on Monday against Pasadena, a slate in which its next five games and six of its last seven are on the road and a playoff push to strive for, Glendale believes pulling away as it did in the second half could give it the extra push it needs.
"It was big because, 'A,' it's our last home game for a while … and going into a big game on Monday against Pasadena they gotta be ready," Adary said. "I'm glad the momentum started going our way."