It was Cole Currie’s ability to provide a bucket seemingly whenever the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team needed one that drew the most attention this season.
The Falcons guard averaged a team-high 19.6 points in league games en route to guiding Crescenta Valley to second place in the Pacific League. It also helped Currie cement his place as one of the top players in league, as he named the league’s co-player of the year with Pasadena High’s Andrew Spight.
“That’s what I was working for all summer and into the fall before the season,” said Currie, who also averaged five assists and 4.5 rebounds a league game, of the award, “but I knew if we didn’t accomplish anything as a team we had no chance. I really focused on the team first and trying to win and I figured the rest of the individual accolades would come with the winning.”
While CV Coach Shawn Zargarian acknowledged Currie’s playmaking ability, what he praised most was what maybe wasn’t clear to those in the stands.
“We knew what he was going to bring as a basketball player,” said Zargarian, whose team finished second in league with an 11-3 record, 23-9 overall, “but the mental toughness and leadership, that stuff carried our team a long way and that’s the stuff I’m not sure a lot of people saw.”
Currie, who was also recently voted the All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year and named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I-A first team, knew he’d have to shoulder plenty of responsibility this season as the lone returner who had quality minutes for the Falcons, which made him the focus of every defense he saw this year.
“It’s a challenge each and every game I look forward to,” Currie said. “I have the confidence to know that I didn’t think anybody could shut me down for four quarters, and if they did I knew the guys would step up around me.”
Among the league’s first-teamers was Nick Springer, who was Crescenta Valley’s No. 2, even No. 1 at times, scoring option this season and Glendale High’s Vahe Aristakessian.
After barely touching the floor last year, Springer (13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds a league game) emerged as one of the league’s top players as a junior.
“Whenever we needed a bucket we’d look to him,” Currie said. “The strides he took this year were just tremendous. Next year, he has so much potential, even this year, I think he was a top-three player in the league without a doubt.”
Aristakessian, a senior, also has a strong case for being considered one of the league’s finest after he led the Pacific in scoring, averaging 21.7 points a league game.
“The best part of his game is he scored multiple ways,” Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said of his senior. “He scored from the outside, hit the three and took people off the dribble to his left and his right and finished at the rim really well in his senior year.”
Instant offense wasn’t the only thing Aristakessian provided the Nitros, who finished seventh in league with a 9-18, 4-10 in league record this year. The senior also nearly averaged a double-double, logging 9.6 boards a league game.
“That was the most amazing thing,” Snodgress said of his 6-foot guard. “He is the best rebounder pound-for-pound I’ve ever coached.”
While Hoover High didn’t have any first-team players, it did garner plenty of respect in the all-league meeting as Jack Van Patten was voted the coach of the year after guiding his team to a 14-14, 5-7 in league campaign.
“You're always surprised and honored to get any award, but it's really a tribute to the kids,” said Van Patten, who had point guard Francis Roncal and shooter Jash Francisco earn second-team and honorable mention on the league list.
Van Patten said he believed it was a hot second half that included two huge Hoover upsets over Muir and Crescenta Valley that pushed him over the top for the award.
“We played a good second half of the season, but it's really nothing I did — it's the kids,” Van Patten repeated. “They were shooting well and playing good defense. The seniors made a concerted effort to stay focused. We were 1-6 at one point and no one wants to be there. We did what we did well in the second half and we look back on it and we're pleased; it was a good season for us.”
Roncal, who averaged 12 points and five assists in league, was the only local to get a second-team nod.
Francisco, who averaged 14.3 points a game this year, was one of three to be named an honorable mention along with Crescenta Valley forward Elliot Wilson and Glendale point guard Arada Zakarian.
Zakarian averaged 9.3 points a game, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game in league play.