LA CRESCENTA — Awkward, out of rhythm and way off the mark were assessments that could be made not only about the Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team's final two shot attempts with the game on the line Wednesday night, but also much of the Falcons' overall performance against visiting Quartz Hill in a CIF Southern Section Division 1-A first-round playoff game.
And while seventh-seeded Crescenta Valley's 49-46 loss to the at-large Rebels will certainly go down as an upset, it wasn't hard for Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian to explain the outcome.
"This, all around, was probably the worst I've seen this team play in 28 games," said Zargarian, who had several starters playing through the flu on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we picked the worst time of the year to come out with a worst game."
Crescenta Valley (20-8) had the ball twice needing three points to tie within the final 24 seconds. Down, 47-44, the Falcons ran a play that led Christian Misi, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, to the basket with a high lob pass from the sideline. Possibly, and mistakenly, thinking he was being fouled as he caught the pass, Misi hurriedly threw up an over-the-shoulder reverse layup that didn't draw iron.
"With 24 seconds, you feel like you can get a quick layup and then foul and have enough time to come down and get something," said Zargarian, whose team, not counting Dylan Kilgour's four-of-eight night, went two for 17 from beyond the arc. "The design on that sideline [out-of-bounds play] was to get Christian on a back door. Davis made a great pass, Christian made a great catch. Maybe his footing was off or what, but he just shot the ball backwards."
After Davis Dragovich (12 points) brought the Falcons back within 49-46 on a layup with 11 seconds left, Quartz Hill missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Falcons had one more chance. Dragovich pushed the ball up the floor and pulled up at the top of the arc, but his shot looked hesitant and disjointed and was covered by two defenders.
Crescenta Valley, which trailed, 21-19, at the half and 33-29 going into the fourth, never seemed able to find its comfort zone offensively against the Rebels' full-court press and fluctuating zone defense that double-teamed the ballhandler constantly.
"Our concern for the last few days had been how we were going to attack that zone," Zargarian said. "That zone is tricky, it's a little 1-3-1 and then they drop to a 2-3, but we were absolutely horrible against the zone today. We did a poor job of executing."