LA CRESCENTA — As the Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team made its lengthy playoff run, capped by an appearance in the state tournament, last season, Nick Springer spent most of the time on the bench waiting his turn.
Springer envisioned stepping into the starting lineup and helping the Falcons win a playoff game. Springer’s chance came Friday night and he backed it up with a sterling performance.
Springer finished with a career-high 32 points to help fourth-seeded Crescenta Valley register an 80-42 home victory against Paloma Valley in a CIF Southern Section Division I-A opening-round contest.
Crescenta Valley, which finished second in the Pacific League, improved to 21-7 and will meet 13th-seeded Edison at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Edison.
“I knew I would have to wait, while also sitting back and learning,” said Springer, a junior guard who collected 21 first-half points before scoring Crescenta Valley’s first 11 points of the second half. “I learned about being poised and learning from the guys who were here last year.
“Now, I feel more confident.”
Springer said he was energized by the noisy crowd.
Springer made three three-pointers and converted on a rare four-point play. He also made all eight of his free-throw attempts, including seven in the first half to help the Falcons grab a 45-16 halftime advantage.
“I just felt great going into the game, and I fed off the support from the crowd,” Springer said.
Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian said Springer provided an instant spark for the Falcons.
“At halftime, I said ‘Nick is playing real well,’” said Zargarian, whose team reached the division semifinals last season before advancing to the state tournament for the first time since 1994. “It’s good to see him step up and do what he could do.
“Last year on the bench, he didn’t get a lot of minutes.”
Springer grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a layup as he was fouled. He converted on the three-point play to give Crescenta Valley an 18-5 lead with three seconds left in the first quarter.
Springer made two three-pointers within a two-minute span in the third quarter. His first gave the Falcons a 21-5 lead with 7:15 remaining before knocking down another three to make it 26-5 with 5:35 to go and cap a 19-0 run by the Falcons.
He converted on a four-point play to pad Crescenta Valley’s lead to 56-18 with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
The Falcons got nine points apiece from Kris Jabourian and Eric Patten and seven from Cole Currie. Berj Krikorian contributed eight assists for Crescenta Valley, which got seven rebounds each from Currie and Elliot Wilson.
“The personnel of the team is real good right now,” Zargarian said.
Paloma Valley (12-17) got 12 points from Preston Green. The Wildcats finished tied for fourth in the Sunbelt League and received an at-large playoff berth.