GLENDALE — When Jashley Francisco stepped to the line with less than one minute to play in the fourth quarter of Friday's Pacific League boys' basketball game between rivals Hoover and Glendale, his peers in the student section of the Tornado gym began serenading the senior with chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP."
The Tornado guard played like the most valuable player on the court in the regular season finale for both teams.
Francisco carried the Tornadoes to a 64-51 victory, scoring a team-high 26 points to go with four steals as Hoover made a stake for an at-large playoff berth.
“If it was one of my other teammates on the line, they would’ve chanted for him too,” said a humble Francisco. “It wasn’t just me.”
Francisco had help. Senior teammates Ando Adjemian and Arvin Atakhanian each had 10 points and junior Teo Davidian had 18 points – including 16 in the second half — and five rebounds.
Most of Francisco’s teammates’ points came in the second through fourth quarters when the Nitros (9-17, 4-10 in league) shifted their defensive focus to Hoover’s main threat.
Francisco had 11 points in the first quarter and 19 in the opening half, as Hoover, which never trailed, built a six-point lead that it extended to 13 midway through the third quarter.
“[Francisco] lit us up in the first half,” Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said. “That set the tone. It couldn’t have gone worse for us. That put us under pressure in a noisy gym and in a rivalry game.”
Even with the noisy fans, the Nitros remained poised and went from playing zone defense to a man-to-man press.
The Nitros, who were nine of 31 from the field in the opening half, also began hitting shots, as they trimmed Hoover’s lead to four on Vahe Aristakessian’s three-point play with 41 seconds to play in the third. Hoover (13-13, 5-9) responded with six unanswered points, with four coming from Davidian and two from Atakhanian.
“Everybody has scoring runs,” Hoover Coach Jack Van Patten said. “You hope yours goes longer than the other guys’ scoring runs. We had a plan, they had a plan. Our kids shot better this time.”
Following Hoover’s six-point spurt, Glendale never came closer than seven, despite Aristakessian’s 27-point, eight-rebound effort. Hoover also limited Glendale’s 6-foot-6 center Arthur Terzyan to six points and eight rebounds. Terzyan, a junior, had 19 points and 19 rebounds in Glendale’s first meeting against Hoover, a 68-51 Nitros win on Jan. 18.
Just like he did in the first meeting against the Tornadoes, when he had 15 points, Aristakessian shot well for Glendale.
“He’s had an unbelievable run,” said Snodgress, who also received 11 points off the bench from Stephan Arakelyan. “He’s averaging 22 points per game in league. He’s been everything for us offensively.
“He was tremendous. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to overcome a spirited Hoover team.”