NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With a roster of only six available players, the Glendale High boys' basketball team certainly had an uphill battle against up-tempo Mark Keppel of Alhambra in Saturday afternoon's Pool Play B finale for the Nitros in the Vaquero Summer Classic.
Perhaps the only way short-handed Glendale could have dealt with the Aztecs' full-court press was to have inserted all six players at the same time, as the Nitros committed 18 turnovers, trailed by 24 points at the half and fell to Keppel, 56-28, at Glendale Community College.
With the defeat, Glendale concluded pool play with a 1-2 mark, its 62-47 victory coming over Burroughs on Thursday, and will face St. Francis in Sunday afternoon's tournament fifth-place game at 1:30 p.m.
As for the rest of tournament play, Keppel, which also defeated Burroughs on Saturday, 48-42, advanced to Sunday's tournament championship versus upstart Hoover at 3:50 p.m. Burroughs will face Alhambra in the seventh-place game at 12:20, while Crescenta Valley hosts Grant at 2:40 in the third-place contest.
"We were down six or seven guys and they all had a slightly different story today," Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said. "Some were sick, some were gone, that's what summer is."
Keppel's pressure was intense in the first half as the Aztecs forced 13 turnovers, three more turnovers than total shots (10) taken by the Nitros in the first half.
The game quickly slipped away after Glendale sophomore forward Patrick Arom hit a turnaround jumper to tie the score at 4 with 16:27 remaining.
From that point, Keppel countered with a 10-0 run and eventually outscored Glendale, 30-6, after the brief stalemate.
Glendale's three additional buckets in the half came on a layup from Harris Cuho and two field goals from Daryousa Rahimi, the second basket a layup with 27 seconds left that capped the first half score at 34-10.
"We didn't do a good job of keeping the ball moving and getting open," Glendale senior guard Rene Saavedra said. "We could play with six guys, but we didn't do it."
Saavedra was one of Glendale's few bright spots, as he led the team with 16 points, including 14 that came in the second half.
Saavedra turned in two highlight plays, the first coming with 8:04 remaining in the second half when he stripped Keppel's Jason Wih under the basket and sprinted coast to coast for a layup.
Then, with 1:44 remaining in the contest, Saavedra drove hard to the lane, hit the breaks as his defender flew by, and converted a three-foot layup that finished his scoring.
"I think one of the positives from this situation is that we had some guys grab additional playing time that they normally don't have," Snodgress said. "The other is that we have other guys step into bigger roles.
"With Rene, you saw him score late and I hope to see more of that scoring in the summer."
With Saavedra and senior Sioun Elieh handling the ball more in the second half, the Nitros also cut down from 13 turnovers in the first half to five in the second half.