GLENDALE — A layup from Glendale High junior Tyler Lousararian as time expired capped a wild back-and-forth contest for the Nitros boys’ basketball team, which knocked off intracity rival Hoover, 63-61, in Glendale Community College Vaquero Classic action Saturday afternoon.
“I think it’s pretty evident that we’re very similar teams in terms of athleticism,” Glendale Coach Steve Snodgrass said. “Hoover beat us for one half and we beat them for one half. Honestly, the only difference was that we made the last shot.”
The Nitros, who were donning throwback Dynamiters jerseys, led, 59-58, when Hoover took possession with 27.7 seconds left in the game.
Glendale appeared to catch a break when junior Alexander Miralis took possession of a loose ball that just slipped out of the hands of a Hoover ballhandler.
Miralis quickly fed teammate Eddie Uluchyan (14 points and five rebounds), who was immediately fouled with 17.2 seconds remaining and with Hoover in the double bonus.
Uluchyan sank both his free throws to put the Nitros up, 61-58.
What turned out to be Hoover’s final offensive possession actually worked like charm, as junior Chris Sarkissian (16 points and five steals) inbounded to senior Alexander Chinishyan, who brought the ball upcourt, sliced through the lane and kicked to senior Earl Rivera (10 points), who was planted in the left corner.
Rivera caught Chinishyan’s bounce pass and drilled a 22-footer with 6.2 seconds left that knotted the game at 61 and sent both benches into a frenzy.
While one side celebrated and the other was shocked, Uluchyan grabbed the ball from the official and spotted Lousararian streaking down the right side of the court.
Uluchyan chucked a pass to center court that Lousararian caught. The junior guard then raced against the clock with Sarkissian in hot pursuit.
Fortunately for Glendale, Lousararian laid the ball up and in just before the buzzer and ahead of a desperation block attempt by Sarkissian.
Only six seconds after the Nitros’ bench had its hands on its collective heads, there was a mad rush toward Lousararian.
“This is an important, but not important game. We never want to lose to our rivals, especially since we’re friends,” said Miralis, who led the Nitros with 20 points and 12 rebounds. “It was a great finish. We lost focus there for a few minutes and let Hoover get back into the game. It was nice to see us get that focus back at the end.”
Prior to Lousararian’s last-second shot, momentum seemed to be on the side of the Tornadoes, who trailed, 28-22.
In fact, Glendale took a 34-23 lead with 14:59 remaining in the second half on a four-footer from senior center Arthur Terzyan (12 points and eight rebounds).
Yet, Hoover battled back with a 15-3 run capped on a layup from Kevin Nazari with 10:20 remaining in which the Tornadoes took a 38-37 advantage, which marked the team’s first lead since midway through the first half.
The lead volleyed between teams over the next six minutes plus, as neither squad led by more than three points up until the game was tied at 50 with 4:19 left.
Glendale then broke the stalemate with a mini 6-0 run fueled by four points from Miralis.
Yet, Hoover rallied for six straight of its own, with the last basket coming on a steal and layup from Chinishyan that again tied the game at 56 with 1:33 left.
Miralis broke the tie for good on Glendale’s next possession by downing a three-pointer that was countered by two free throws from Sarkissian with 1:14 remaining.
Overall, Nitros junior Rodrick Karamkhodian led his squad with 19 points.
“You don’t like to lose, but this was a really good game between friendly rivals,” Hoover Coach Jack Van Patten said. “This is what you want, a heated, but good, clean rivalry game that has an exciting finish.”