GLENDALE — The Hoover High boys’ basketball team picked up two wins on the first day of the Glendale Community College Vaquero Summer Classic on Thursday, including a 53-34 victory over a short-handed St. Francis squad.
Teo Davidian paved the way for the Tornadoes with 12 points. The senior and co-captain said he is feeling optimistic about the team’s chances this season. In the meantime, Tornadoes Coach Jack Van Patten is looking to improve the chemistry of the squad consisting of experienced and inexperienced players.
“It’s summer — they’re missing some key guys, we’re missing some guys,” Van Patten said. “We want our new guys to get a chance to play and work on new combinations. We just want to get better all the time.”
“We can be really good,” Davidian added. “We just need to keep our focus, play our game and if we do that, then we’ll be great.”
On the other side, St. Francis struggled without Kyle Leufroy, Michael Allen and Evan Crawford — three staples of last season’s squad.
Greg Lupica, who came on strong for the Golden Knights late last season, led the team with nine points in the loss to the Tornadoes. Noah Willerford chipped in with seven.
Coming off a four-overtime thriller just five days prior, the Golden Knights couldn’t stay close with their opponent this time. St. Francis led, 8-7, midway through the first half, only to see the Tornadoes use a 14-2 run to take a 22-10 lead.
The Golden Knights responded and closed out the first half, scoring nine of the final 11 points to cut the Hoover lead down to 24-19.
The Tornadoes would not relinquish their lead, however, and soon regained a double-digit lead in the early stages of the second half despite not scoring until the 12:20 mark when Davidian found Alex Chrishyan inside for a layup. From there, the Tornadoes went on a 10-2 run.
Arlen Moradi scored nine of his 12 points in the second 16-minute frame and matched Davidian for the team high. Rodrick Karamkhodian added nine.
Neither team shot the ball efficiently. Hoover overcame its size disadvantage and outrebounded the Golden Knights.
“Last year, I think Hoover kicked our butt in the summer,” St. Francis Co-Coach Ray O’Brien said. “Neither team played great today, but they were more aggressive. They kept coming at us and we couldn’t handle it.
“We stopped hitting shots and then there was adversity. You need leadership in times like that and with some of our guys out, we didn’t have that.”
The summer classic, which also includes Glendale and Burroughs, will run through June 30. Hoover will play Grant Friday at 3:10 p.m.. St. Francis will play consecutive games Sunday.