Things certainly changed a lot in a year for the Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team, but one could hardly tell from how its played this season, particularly in the postseason.
Crescenta Valley will look to do something most everyone — outside of its locker room — would have assumed improbable, if not impossible, Friday night.
“No one would come out and say it, but if you asked teams in our league or people in the area, they would have said we aren’t going to be very good this year,” CV Coach Shawn Zargarian said.
The Falcons, who graduated four starters and six key players in 2012, will host visiting Millikan of Long Beach in a CIF Southern Section Division I-A quarterfinal game at 7 p.m.
A win would put CV in the semifinals for the second year in a row and keep hope of bringing home the ultimate prize.
“We’re excited, not many people thought we’d be here,” Crescenta Valley point guard Cole Currie said. “We like where we are right now.”
While the Falcons will look to prove they haven’t missed a step this season, they’ll have their hands full with a Rams squad that knocked off fifth-seeded San Clemente, 82-72, Tuesday and is playing well beyond its 12th seed.
Millikan comes into the quarterfinals with a 14-14 record and as the third team out of a tough Moore League that includes Long Beach Poly, Compton and Jordan. The Rams have played well beyond their 12th seed in the playoffs, as one of their key players, Malik Marquetti, became eligible to play about halfway through the season, Zargarian said.
“Since he’s been there they’ve gone 11-3,” he said. “I don’t know that they’re necessarily a No. 12 or 13 seed. I think they’re a very good team that might have been seeded low because of their overall record and where they finished in a tough, tough league. They’re a good team; they’re legit.”
Marquetti, a junior 6-foot-5 small forward, averages a double-double a game with 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds a game, according to MaxPreps.com. Senior shooting guard Brian Chambers is the focal point of Millikan’s offense, though, averaging a team-high 20.7 points a contest.
The fast-paced Rams, who have five other players averaging at least seven points a game, figure to be a tough defensive assignment for the Falcons.
“They’re pushing the ball, pushing the tempo and taking the first available shot, whether it’s their leading scorer or fifth-leading scorer,” Zargarian said. “They’re just going, so we’re going to have to do a good job of recognizing, defending and limiting them to one shot.”
Currie and Zargarian both said Millikan’s up-tempo offensive style is nothing Crescenta Valley hasn’t seen in the Pacific League from Pasadena and Muir.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in that type of game, and I think that’s what they want us to do,” Currie said. “For us, we really have to slow the game down, limit our turnovers and keep them off the glass. I think we’ll be fine if we can do that.”
Crescenta Valley is also playing some of its best basketball after an 80-42 win over Paloma Valley at home in the first round and a 63-51 road win over Edison in Tuesday’s second round.
Nick Springer scored a career-high 32 points against Paloma Valley and Currie poured in a game-high 28 at Edison. Kris Jabourian is also averaging nine points a game in the playoffs.
“All year long we’ve talked about, ‘We’re not really peaking or playing at the level we expect ourselves to be,’ and [against Edison] we felt we were clicking on all cylinders,” Zargarian said. “If you had to look across the board, we felt like [Edison] was probably one of the best games we’ve played on both ends of the floor. Obviously coming into the quarterfinals, that’s a great feeling.”