LA CRESCENTA — Trying to stay calm was the easiest thing for Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball player Christian Misi to do with so much at stake during Friday night's Pacific League contest against visiting Pasadena.
The cheering from the crowd undoubtedly energized the senior center a few seconds after the Falcons called timeout with a chance to deliver their biggest win of the season. Misi still had work to do, knowing the last play would likely be designed for him.
He didn't disappoint.
Misi made a three-pointer with six seconds left to give Crescenta Valley a 61-60 upset victory against Pasadena.
"I had to calm my nerves," said Misi, a reigning All-Area first-team selection, who helped the Falcons improve to 21-4, 10-2 in league to tie Pasadena for second place behind Muir, which clinched at least a share of the league title on Friday. "[Teammate] Davis Dragovich called the play during the timeout.
"When I got the shot off, I didn't know if I would be excited or I would brick the shot. When it left my hands, I knew it would be close. It's the biggest shot I've made [at Crescenta Valley]."
The Falcons, who won their sixth game in a row and are ranked sixth in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I-A poll, split the two-game season series with Pasadena, which dropped to 18-6, 9-2 and is ranked No. 2 in Division III-AAA behind Damien.
The Bulldogs, the defending league champion, appeared to be in good shape after Brandon Jolley scored and was fouled with 37 seconds left in regulation to put Pasadena up, 60-58. However, Jolley missed the chance to complete the three-point play before teammate John Hayward grabbed the rebound and called timeout. The Bulldogs were then called for a five-second violation, giving Crescenta Valley at least one more opportunity to tie or win the drama-filled contest.
Crescenta Valley moved the ball to midcourt before Coach Shawn Zargarian called timeout with 21.7 seconds left. Misi, who finished with 19 points, then made his third three-pointer to turn back Pasadena.
"He's the reigning league MVP, so why not give him a shot at it?," said Zargarian, who picked up his first victory against Pasadena since taking over the team in 2005. "He had a hand in his face, and I wasn't sure if it might be blocked when it left his hand.
"I've been challenging them all year on having the ability to play through adversity. I'm so proud of them to fight back."
The Bulldogs had a chance to win it, but couldn't get off a clean shot before time expired.
Pasadena Coach Tim Tucker, whose team lost for just the second time in its last 16 games, said Misi made a quality shot.
"It was a great shot and we contested it," said Tucker, who received a game-high 21 points from Jolley and 14 from Ajon Efferson. "It was a great game and both teams played well.
"We missed a lot of free throws at the end. We've got to finish up strong."
Crescenta Valley, which suffered an 80-59 road defeat against Pasadena on Jan. 13, received 19 points and 10 rebounds from Dragovich. Dragovich made a layup with 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter to knot the game at 58.
Crescenta Valley raced out to an 8-0 lead before Pasadena used a 12-2 run to take a 12-10 lead after the first quarter. Pasadena held a 32-24 halftime advantage, capped by a steal and basket by Blake Hamilton with one second left.
The Falcons outscored the Bulldogs, 19-14, in the third quarter to pull to within 46-43.
Crescenta Valley will next face host Muir, which picked up a 73-65 win against Glendale on Friday, at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Pasadena will meet visiting Hoover at 5 p.m. Tuesday.