After 80% of the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team’s starting lineup graduated last year following a trip to the state tournament, Cole Currie found himself in a rare situation.
And it came with a list of questions ranging from how would the senior guard adapt to the next wave of talent to roam the court with him to how comfortable he’d be passing or receiving the ball in different schemes?
While players come and go and the makeup of rosters change, it took little time for Currie to make the necessary adjustments.
“It’s hard when you have to replace four starters,” Currie said. “There’s always going to be big expectations playing for this program, so you have to be prepared to make all of the adjustments and accept the role of being a leader.
“We’ve had a couple of tough losses this year, but I like the way that we’ve played with that extra energy in all of our games.”
The Falcons are 13-4, 4-0 in the Pacific League and ranked No. 6 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I-A poll in large part due to some of Currie’s heroics. His flashy passes and astute shooting skills have the Falcons in line to contend for the league championship and a return trip to the playoffs after the Falcons reached the semifinals last season for the first time since 1994 with Christian Misi, Davis Dragovich, Rudy Avila and Dylan Kilgour working alongside Currie.
Things have gone better than expected for Currie, a four-year varsity athlete, and the Falcons during would could be construed as a transition season. He’s matured on the court and been given several top responsibilities by Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian.
“There’s a lot of pride with this being his team,” said Zargarian, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year. “He’s played with a lot of good players from Coltrane Powdrill to Christian Misi to Davis Dragovich.
“He’s looking forward to experiencing this role. He’s putting in so much extra time to get better. If we need him to take a big shot, he can do it. If we need him to drive and make a pass down low, he can do that. The guys are following him and accepting his leadership abilities.”
During the early stages of league action, Currie, who is averaging 20 points, four assists and five rebounds per game, has provided a couple of excellent examples of what he’s been able to bring to the court.
During a league road contest against Muir on Jan. 4, Currie finished with 29 points to lead the Falcons to a 69-60 victory. Not satisfied, Currie stepped in and finished with a season-best 34 points in Crescenta Valley’s 61-50 league win against host Glendale on Monday. He had 21 points in the first half, equaling what Glendale could muster.
Currie’s effort drew the praise of Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress.
“He’s got such a great outside game in that you need to always be able to respect that,” Snodgress said. “He’s also got that ability to zip down the lane and finish.
“He was fantastic against us.”
Undoubtedly, Currie, who averaged 11.3 points and three rebounds per game and led the team with 109 assists last season en route to earning a spot on the all-league second team, might make believers out of several more league coaches during the next month.
“He’s in the gym for about an extra hour before and after practice,” Zargarian said. “That tells you all you need to know about Cole and how he’s trying to always get better.
“It’s no mystery. We want the ball to be in his hand. If not, then we’ll run stuff to get him the ball. He understands how to impact a game in many ways.”
While some teams might take a step back after losing a chunk of its starting lineup, Currie, who is a shortstop and pitcher on the school’s baseball team that won a Pacific League championship last season, and the Falcons have zoomed forward.
Having Currie on board to carry the Falcons has helped his teammates make a fluid transition in trying to build their own identity.
“He knows his role and he’s a smart player,” Crescenta Valley senior forward Kris Jabourian said. “He puts in a lot of extra work and the rest of us can connect with him.
“He’s been able to show us how to react during different situations in a game or even a practice. You want to have the one person who you know you are always able to count on.”
Crescenta Valley will continue to look for Currie to register some top-notch performances similar to what he had against Muir and Glendale.
Currie said he’s capable of better performances, something the Falcons wouldn’t mind seeing.
“It’s a lot about helping my teammates get better,” Currie said. “I can still do a lot of things better.
“The scoring, rebounds and assists will take care of itself. We are still learning about each other after the first month of the season. We are starting to get there and that’s a good sign. I’ve been as focused as I’ve ever been and that’s because I’m being more aggressive.”