BURBANK — Opportunity was the dominant theme at Thursday afternoon’s Burbank High boys’ basketball summer league contest between nonleague rivals La Cañada and Crescenta Valley.
The Falcons, who arrived with a nearly full roster, took advantage of a split-squad Spartans unit that showed flashes of grit in a 56-35 CV victory.
“La Cañada played us tough early, but we were able to blow it open in the second half and put them away,” Falcons junior Kevin Dinges said. “I thought we had a chance to work on some things like our chemistry and defense and did that.”
Dinges (10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks) and senior forward Eric Patten, who led all players with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, helped rapidly build up the Falcons’ advantage.
La Cañada, which trailed by as many as 15 points early in the game, closed to within 29-19 at halftime.
A relatively close contest deteriorated quickly, as the Falcons opened the second half with a 13-0 run, capped by a 10-footer from Eric Bae (assist from Berj Krikorian) with 14:21 remaining, to go up, 42-19.
Crescenta Valley’s spurt began with a three-pointer from Arin Pezeshkian, who was three for four from behind the arc for nine points, on the Falcons’ first possession of the second half.
The bucket was followed by two points from Dinges from the free-throw line and an and-one two-footer from Patten, who was fouled by Spartans senior John Lee.
Patten hit his follow-up free throw to push the Falcons ahead, 37-19.
La Cañada eventually broke its more than nine-minute scoring drought with two points from the charity stripe from Tyler Rubendall with 11:57 remaining.
Rubendall’s free throws jump-started a mini Spartans rally, as La Cañada scored seven consecutive points to close within 42-26 on a pair of free throws from sophomore Evan Ohanessian with 9:18 remaining.
Two possessions later, Rubendall brought the Spartans to their closest deficit since Crescenta Valley’s 13-0 run with a slashing layup in which he was fouled by junior guard Kyle Currie with 6:13 left.
The layup, plus a free throw, narrowed the margin to 44-29.
“Our guys are relatively young and don’t know too much other than how to fight,” said Spartans freshman coach R.T. Van Valer, who was filling in for head coach Tom Hofman. “They battled, but Crescenta Valley is an excellent team and closed out.”
Hofman and the majority of the Spartans varsity lineup were in Los Angeles for the Fairfax Tournament, although Van Valer’s lineup did include six varsity players, four of whom were seniors.
Despite La Cañada’s rally, the Falcons scored eight of the next 10 points to take an insurmountable 50-31 lead on a rebound and put back from Patten with 4:52 remaining.
Despite the loss, Ohanessian led his team with 15 points and eight rebounds.