No learning curve needed for new Nitros leader in win over Poly

PASADENA — Ever since summer began, Arada Zakarian has shown he's comfortable with his new role on the Glendale High boys' basketball team.

Zakarian knew he had to step up after the Nitros graduated their top two offensive players from last season — center David Yetenikyan and forward Sevan Pogosyan — and he did just that Tuesday in a 47-37 victory over Pasadena Poly in a game at Maranatha High.

"The minute Sevan and David left the gym this spring he's acted and looked like it's his team," Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress of Zakarian, who led all scorers with 24 points. "The leadership came through and the confidence level went up. It's been from day one, he's been consistent and he's really taken a lot of load on his shoulders. This was just another night for him playing really well."

Zakarian said he and his teammate Vahe Aristakessian, who didn't play Tuesday along with Stephan Arakelyn and Ariel Lopez, will be key to next season's success.

"We are the engines basically of our offense, as long as we score and do our thing we'll be fine," said Zakarian, who was lights out from deep with four three-pointers. "When we first got together it was kind of weird with a bunch of new people, but I think we are used to it now."

Poly began to click in the fourth quarter, as it went on a 14-6 run to cut what was an 18-point Glendale lead to as little as eight, while Zakarian sat out the quarter. Will Genske sparked the Panthers' charge with four steals in a 1:09 span.

"Will had some nice steals, he said I have to make him a two guard now," Poly Coach Brad Hall laughed.

Genske picked off a Glendale pass at halfcourt and cashed it in for a layup to cut the lead to 43-31. He repeated the feat with 3:50 to go, which prompted a Nitros timeout. Glendale came out sloppy out of the timeout, as Genske forced another turnover and laid it in to bring the score to 43-35 with 3:35 remaining.

"It's all effort and working hard," said Genske, who scored a team-high 18 points with four rebounds with 10 points and four steals coming in the final quarter. "We all collectively worked as a unit finally and we got a spark there. Everyone else was pressuring the ball a lot and that made a difference on my steals. It wasn't just me, it was the guys pressuring the ball that led to those steals."

It wasn't enough to outdo Glendale and Zakarian's hot start, though. The soon-to-be senior got rolling early, as he scored Glendale's first eight points. He got the Nitros on the board with a triple 1:20 into the game and added another with 2:35 to go in the first quarter to put Glendale up, 8-2.

Zakarian also scored the first points of the second quarter on a layup assisted by Erik Ebrahimi to push the Nitros lead to 15-6.

Two quick Poly buckets from Genske and Jared Lim cut the deficit to five, 15-10, but the Nitros maintained a seven-point lead headed to halftime.

The Nitros dominated the third quarter with a 19-8 run — Zakarian scoring 11 in the span — and came close to taking a 20-plus advantage into halftime, but a tough three from Zakarian that appeared to beat the third-quarter buzzer was waved off by the officials.

"[Zakarian] shot the ball really well from the outside," Snodgress said. "When he's shooting the ball well from the outside there's not a lot you can do with him. …Especially on a night where we're missing a big guy or two, he really picked up the slack. I couldn't have been any more pleased with him."

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