PASADENA — Having reeled off a six-game winning streak since losing to Pasadena at home on Jan. 12, the Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team entered Tuesday's rematch at Pasadena in prime position to pull even with the Bulldogs in the race for the Pacific League title.
Sharing or winning the title outright is now a bird that's likely flown on the Falcons after Pasadena's sound 71-50 victory, but Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian knows the season didn't end with his team's title hopes.
"I kind of had it set in my mind, win or lose tonight, that I was going to go in [the locker room] and tell our guys, 'Hey, you've got to put it behind you,'" said Zargarian, whose team fell to 17-7 and 9-2 in league. "Obviously, it's a tough loss, we're disappointed, but we've still got three games to play, we've still got second place to finish at, we've got a 20-win season we need to look at and we need to look at the playoffs.
"We've got a lot to look forward to and we've got to get better."
Although the Falcons kept the Bulldogs within arm's reach until late in the second half, Pasadena (17-6, 11-0) was never really threatened after pulling away at the onset of the second quarter and outscored Crescenta Valley by double-digits in the fourth quarter.
Christian Misi led the Falcons with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Davis Dragovich added 12 points, including three-for-three shooting from three-point range, but Crescenta Valley, which committed 23 turnovers, couldn't match the Bulldogs' intensity on defense or persistence at the offensive end.
Point guard Austin Daniels led Pasadena with 17 points and was one of two Bulldogs with five steals, while Pasadena also got 16 points from Blake Hamilton and 10 from John Hayward.
"I knew we were going to be in a war, but I knew something about my team and I knew the way we were playing, we were getting ready," said Pasadena Coach Tim Tucker, whose team needed a winning basket in the final seconds to escape with a 39-37 win in the teams' last meeting. "Misi's a great player and he played a great game, but we were game-ready today and we've been moving forward lately. We're starting to carry a little swagger lately about what we're doing."
The game was tied at 10 before Pasadena's Alex Nazerian hit a buzzer-beating two-pointer to close the first quarter.
Following an 8-0 Pasadena run over the first 1:46 of the second period, Dragovich converted a three-point play to bring the score to 20-13, but the Falcons wouldn't score again until Misi's jumper with 2:43 left in the first half, which cut the lead to 11.
The Falcons scored the last four points of the second half to pull to within 12, but hadn't made a dent in the deficit by the end of the third quarter.
It was a rough night offensively for the Falcons starting backcourt of Cole Currie and Dylan Kilgour, who combined to shoot three for 17 and contributed heavily to the Falcons' pile of turnovers.
"Shooting-wise, I can understand an off-night, we can try to pick that up with other guys like Christian [who] stepped up offensively and Davis stepped up," Zargarian said, "but the fact they kept turning the ball over, that was just disappointing.
"You're not going to win the game giving them  more looks and yourself  less looks."