Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo still No. 1

The top 10 high school teams from the 2012-13 season were selected by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Crescenta Valley girls’ water polo — Under first-year coach Brent Danna, things quickly came together for the Falcons in what proved to be a historic season that culminated in the program winning its first CIF championship.

After two previous appearances in the CIF Southern Section Division V semifinals, the Falcons shrugged off the tough defeats and came back into the mix prepared to win the elusive CIF crown.

They remained at or near the top of the weekly division polls throughout the season and won another Pacific League championship. Goalkeeper Gabriel Isacson and utility player Shannon Hovanesian took home the highest honors on what was far from a two-girl show for the extremely balanced Falcons team.

Isacson (228 saves, 19 steals and 18 assists) was named All-Area Girls’ Water Polo Player of the Year along with earning All-CIF Division V Player of the Year. Hovanesian (81 goals, 106 steals and 90 assists) was selected as the league’s player of the year. She earned a spot on the All-Area team, along with Elissa Arnold, Katie Benson, Ashley Taylor and Breana Lawton.

A dangerous defensive and spread-out offensive Crescenta Valley squad reached its zenith Feb. 23. The Falcons erased several years of heartbreak with a convincing 10-5 victory against Riverside Poly at the William J. Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine.

“You look back at the whole journey, and it took a lot of hard work before and during the season to make things happen,” said Danna, whose team finished 32-2 overall, 8-0 in league. “Everything lined up, but the players were the ones who put in the hard work to make it all happen. I’m just happy that we had the best result.

“We had a lot of players who were hungry to win CIF. They all did what they had to do to make it a successful run through the playoffs.”

2 Crescenta Valley boys’ swimming — Crescenta Valley marched to its 21st consecutive Pacific League championship and had aspirations to repeat as CIF Southern Section Division II champion under the direction of coach Jan Sakonju. Blessed with an array of talented athletes, Crescenta Valley’s bid for another CIF title was derailed by favored Los Osos.

While the Falcons didn’t repeat, they still featured a star-studded cast that included Young Tae Seo, who swept the All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year award all four years, and Harrison Thai. Other standouts for the Falcons were Edward Yi and Jacob Ksendzov. Individually, Seo won four league and two CIF titles — setting three new league and two Division II records in the process.

“They have to look at their careers, of course at this moment it’s going to be tough because of the emotion,” Sakonju said after the CIF runner-up finish. “It does not tarnish their legacy at all and their legendary status. Ten years from now people will be talking about the two of them and what happens once they graduate, the legends get even greater, where Harrison and Young Tae are these 6-foot-4 monsters that swam on top of the water.”

Seo won the 200-yard individual medley in 1 minute 47.80 seconds and teamed with Thai, Yi and Ksendzov to capture the 200-medley relay in 1:33.39.

3 Glendale boys’ water polo — The Nitros wasted little time making a name for themselves. Glendale spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division V weekly polls after an upset victory over then top-seeded La Serna in the Los Altos Tournament championship match Sept. 15.

Glendale went on to win its second straight undefeated Pacific League championship and marched to the division championship match against Pasadena Poly in Irvine.

Unfortunately for the Nitros and coach Forest Holbrook, their season closed with a 12-10 defeat. It marked the first time that Glendale (22-6, 8-0 in league) advanced to the title match in its history.

Still, Glendale made plenty of strides by showcasing its mobile athletes that included All-Area honorees Arman Momdzhyan, Martin Chatalyan and David Papazian.

Momdzhyan paced the Nitros with 136 goals and Chatalyan chipped in with 91. Both earned All-CIF Division V accolades.

4 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming — Coming into the season, there appeared to be plenty of upside for the rising Tologs and their improved lineup that included Kirsten Vose, Kate Herrill, Emily Balog and Katie Altmayer. With coach Steve Bergen calling the shots and assembling the lineup, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy captured an outright Mission League title for the second season in a row.

Flintridge Sacred Heart then took seventh in the CIF Southern Section Division I finals after taking 14th the year before. Bergen was named All-Area Girls’ Swimming Coach of the Year.

Vose mostly set the table for the Tologs throughout the season, culminating with her winning a division championship in the 100-yard breaststroke in one minute, 2.57 seconds and being selected as the All-Area Girls’ Swimmer of the Year. In addition, Flintridge Sacred Heart turned to Vose, Herrill, Balog and Altmayer to win the 200-medley relay championship (2:05.63) in underdog and dramatic fashion.

With Vose, Herrill, Altmayer and a new cast stepping up in 2014, the future is perhaps even brighter than the present for the young and talented Tologs.

5 Crescenta Valley boys’ basketball — With only one returner back in Cole Currie following a season in which they reached the semifinals and state tournament with an experienced cast, the Falcons pulled off one of the most shocking postseason runs this season.

Perhaps the only ones not surprised were Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian and his cast of newcomers, highlighted by Currie and junior Nick Springer.

Yet again, Zargarian got the most out of his talent and place second in the tough Pacific League. They then again reached the CIF Southern Section Division I-A semifinals before falling to top-seeded El Toro on the road.

Crescenta Valley reached the CIF State Division I tournament for the second season in a row under Zargarian, losing in the first round to Crenshaw. Crescenta Valley finished 23-9 and 11-3 in league.

The Tulane-bound Currie averaged 19.1 points, 4.5 assists and five rebounds per game and was named All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Zargarian was chosen as All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year.

6 Crescenta Valley girls’ swimming — With a talented freshman core of Heather MacDougall and Tiara Coker in tact, Crescenta Valley’s future may have started this past season.

With first-year coach Brent Danna and junior Iva Icheva also on board, the Falcons went on to win their sixth straight Pacific League championship before finishing fifth at the CIF Southern Section Division II finals.

Not afraid of the spotlight, MacDougall won the CIF Southern Section Division II 100-yard freestyle in 50.92 seconds after placing fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:06.26). The Falcons also took third in the 400-freestyle relay (1:48.12).

7 Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball — With practically a perfect cast in place, the Rebels continued their dominance in the Prep League, winning it for the sixth straight year and 11th in the last 12 seasons all under coach Garrett Ohara. Sparked by guard Robert Cartwright, the Rebels (22-7, 8-0) marched to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA semifinals before falling to Mission Prep.

Cartwright averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals per contest en route to being named the league’s most valuable player and receiving All-Area first-team honors. He also benefited from the presence of senior leaders in the post Kareem Ismail and Chadd Cosse, lights-out shooting Jedrick Eugenio, a shifty Kyle Hamane at the other guard spot and a bench that included sixth-man Tyler Weakland.

Flintridge Prep participated in the CIF State Division V tournament, falling in the first round to then-defending state champion Village Christian.

8 Crescenta Valley girls’ golf — With three-time All-Area Girls’ Golfer of the Year Jocelyn Chia leading the charge, the Falcons shared the Pacific League championship with rival Arcadia.

Not just satisfied with winning league, the talented Falcons finished sixth in the CIF Southern Section Central Team Divisional for the second year in a row.

Crescenta Valley also received a boost from All-Area honoree Audrey Chung and Coach Lee Pope was named All-Area Girls’ Golf Coach of the Year. Chia reached the CIF Southern Section Individual Final and Women's Southern California Golf Assn. Qualifying Tournament — the third round of individual play — for the third season in a row.

9 St. Francis basketball — Having seen its two top players from 2012 graduate, the Golden Knights, piloted by co-coaches Ray O’Brien and Jeff Stephens, went 17-14 and 4-8 in the tough Mission League before reaching the CIF Southern Section Division III-A quarterfinals after falling in the second round in each of the previous two seasons.

The Golden Knights knocked off defending state champion Alemany in a league home game and battled against traditional league powers Harvard-Westlake and Chaminade.

Kyle Leufroy, who earned All-Area accolades, was flanked by Markar Agakanian and Evan Crawford to create a formidable trio.

10. Crescenta Valley boys’ soccer — After winning the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship in 2012, the Falcons lost plenty of talented players to graduation. To make things more challenging, the Falcons were moved to Division III.

Crescenta Valley, under coach Grant Clark, jockeyed for top spot in the Pacific League, but saw its three-year reign as league champions end. The Falcons finished 19-4-7, 8-2-4 in league for second place. Crescenta Valley then won a first-round playoff match before falling in the second round.

The Falcons featured All-Area picks Pablo Sotillo, Erick Trejo and Rani Dimashki.

Honorable mention: Crescenta Valley baseball, Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer.

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