Vaqs open Classic strong

Prior to the season, Sooren Derboghosian-Pakajaki met with the coaching staff of the Glendale Community College men's basketball team to discuss what his specific job responsibilities would entail.

The conversation was short and to the point with the 6-foot-9 sophomore center, who would be asked to handle most of the rebounding responsibilities on both ends of the court and provide a key dimension on offense.

Things have worked out well for the most part for Derboghosian-Pakajaki, who contributed 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Wednesday night to lead Glendale college to a convincing 84-58 victory against Rio Hondo College in an opening-round game of the Vaquero Classic.

Derboghosian Pakajaki, a native of Iran, came ready to play for the Vaqueros, who also received 16 points from freshman wing Sammy Darling.

"I knew that I had to come out and play big and tough," Derboghosian-Pakajaki said. "I've been working a lot on my rebounding and trying to play big [in the paint].

"[Glendale Coach Brian Beauchemin] wants me to work more on my post moves."

Glendale (6-5) will meet Victor Valley in a semifinal game at 4 p.m. Friday. Rio Hondo (2-7) will take on Moorpark in a consolation contest at noon Friday.

Beauchemin, who picked up his 552nd career victory in his 998th game at Glendale, said 245-pound Derboghosian-Pakajaki got the key rebounds.

"He keeps plugging away and he's conscientious about what he needs to do to help the team win," said Beauchemin, who took over the program in 1979. "We thought rebounding would be our problem going into the season and we've been up and down with it.

"I thought our defense was better and we did a good job of closing down their three-pointers. It's encouraging."

Derboghosian Pakajaki grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a layup to give the Vaqueros a 36-24 lead with 1:36 left in the first half. The Vaqueros held the same advantage at halftime.

Derboghosian-Pakajaki had seven first-half rebounds and the Roadrunners were often forced to take long-distance shots.

Glendale, which qualified for the Southern California Regionals last season for the first time since 2008, received 13 points and eight assists from sophomore guard Nick Rhodes, a reigning All-Western State Conference pick. Glendale also got 10 points from freshman guard Robert Henry and six assists and three steals from sophomore guard Shara Babakhanians, a Hoover High graduate.

Rio Hondo got a game-high 18 points from freshman guard Landon Mott.

Today's other opening-round games will feature Orange Coast Community College against L.A. Southwest at 5 p.m., followed by L.A. Pierce versus L.A. Valley at 7.

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