NORTHWEST GLENDALE — A short-handed Glendale High girls' basketball squad played effective enough to go without its two injured starters Friday night at Hoover High.
The Nitros held off a late Hoover run to seal their second Pacific League win and a victory over the rival Tornadoes by a score of 37-24.
Kristineh Zadourian and Ruth Rivas led the Nitros with six points each, while Lala Karimian tallied five. Hoover's Kariz Alberto led the game with eight.
Alberto was one of the most aggressive players on the court, fueling a late fourth-quarter run that brought the Tornadoes back to within 10 points with under five minutes left to play.
"We gave them a little bit of a run," said Glendale Coach Tania Adary, whose team (8-10, 2-5 in league) was without Nina Sahakian and Michelle Tomasian. "But we were able to put points on the board and pull through without our two starters."
Down by 14 with 4:40 left on the clock, Alberto took an outlet pass and hit a jumper at the foul line. On the next possession, Alberto grabbed an offensive rebound and blew past her defender down court for a fastbreak layup to make the score 31-21.
However, the rest of the Hoover squad (4-11, 0-7) proved to be gun shy on offense, often hesitating to shoot in the break and bleeding out the shot clock.
"We often don't take it strong to the basket like we need to," Hoover Coach Stan Watson said. "Kariz is a driver, but the problem is that she was kind of fading away from the pressure."
The Glendale press proved extremely problematic for the Tornadoes, as it forced eight turnovers and several more bad shots off traps.
"Every team has pressed us in league and in our preseason games because we don't run our press break like we're supposed to," Watson said. "We go over it, we design things and we scheme it, but unfortunately, our ladies want to dribble against the press instead of pass it."
"We've done a much better job with our press, but (Alberto) is really feisty and she can break the press," Adary said. "We knew that she would want to bring the ball down so we tried to kind of pressure up on their other guards."
After both teams struggled offensively in the first half, the Nitros came out determined to score. Up 20-11 in the third quarter, Ellin Avanessian hit a big three-pointer that re-energized the Nitros. However, the Glendale offense had to alter its game plan in order to get around post player Allison Zalin, who recently returned to action after suffering a knee injury.
Zalin scored just two points, but pulled down seven rebounds and blocked a game-high four shots.
"I told them that she'll get her team going," Adary said. "She's a good player."
While Zalin's impact was noticed, it was not enough to carry the Tornadoes. The Nitros' 12 fourth-quarter points pushed the game out of reach.
"I think it was the intensity," Watson said. "Glendale had a little more intensity and a little more heart and desire. They're a little taller, a littler more athletic and have certainly had a little more success on the year. I think our girls just didn't handle the pressure and the intensity of the rivalry game."