BURBANK — The Burbank High and Glendale boys' basketball teams found themselves in a precarious position.
At this point in the season, every misstep could prove disastrous; every loss could ultimately be the difference between making the playoffs and spending the postseason sitting home.
With the first three of four playoffs spots just about locked up by Muir, Pasadena and Crescenta Valley, the Bulldogs and Nitros met Tuesday in a battle of squads scratching to stay in contention for the coveted fourth position.
It was fitting that the clash came down to the final seconds. After enjoying a 10-point lead, Glendale staved off a late Burbank comeback to survive with a 49-46 victory on the road.
With the win, the Nitros (10-13, 5-6 in league) are alone in fourth place and have a two-game advantage over the Bulldogs (11-13, 3-8) and Arcadia (10-13, 3-8) with three league games remaining. Burbank and the Apaches are tied for fifth place.
"I've been thinking about this game for two days," Glendale senior Sevan Pogosyan said. "I couldn't wait. I haven't been able to sleep thinking about this game. We all knew how important this game was and we just wanted to come out and play with heart."
Pogosyan led by example, pouring in 23 points, mostly on pull-up jumpers in the key. Teammate David Yetenikyan did his part in the paint, scoring 13 points and snatching 16 rebounds.
The Bulldogs received a boost from the return of junior Andre Spight from an injury. The guard came off the bench to tally 16 points and six rebounds. Senior Caine Brown, a transfer from Las Vegas, chipped in 14 points to go along with three steals.
Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said he didn't have to outline the importance of the game to his players.
"It was obvious that both teams needed to win this and we felt we had to play at our best in the first round to beat Burbank, and to come in here and play well was really what the doctor ordered for us," said Snodgress, whose squad earned a 70-66 win against Burbank on Jan. 11. "I'm just so excited. I can't believe it. This is our biggest win of the year."
In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs overcame a previous Glendale lead that had bulged to 10 points. With just 1:38 remaining, Spight sank a long two-point basket to give Burbank its first lead of the game, 46-45.
However, the Nitros quickly responded with Pogosyan draining two consecutive baskets to give Glendale a three-point advantage.
Burbank had two opportunities to tie the score in the waning seconds. Senior Adrian Chavez looked to have the equalizer with 19 seconds left, but the three-point attempt from the far sideline banked off the inside of the rim and careened out. With seven seconds left, a three-point attempt by Spight banked off the front of the rim into the waiting hands of Yetenikyan.
"We just couldn't seem to get over the hump in this game," Burbank Coach Jose Hernandez said. "We can be very inconsistent, and we were inconsistent at times in this game."
After trailing, 14-11, after the first quarter, the Bulldogs made just two of 10 shots from the field in the second quarter. That allowed Glendale to outscore Burbank, 14-7, in the quarter to take a 28-18 lead into halftime.