Crescenta Valley water polo's Gabriel Isacson stepped up when needed most

The top 10 individual performances by an athlete in a team setting from the 2012-13 season were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Isacson saves, CV wins CIF, Feb. 23 — When Gabriel Isaacson emerged from the pool on the 23rd of February, she was well aware of the history that had been made. She was uncertain, though, just how big a part she had played in it.

“I was actually shocked when I came out of the pool and everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you did so great,’” Isacson said. “I didn’t realize I was blocking so many shots.”

The senior goalie was flat out clutch and borderline amazing, stopping 16 shots to stave off Riverside Poly, 10-5, in the CIF Southern Section Division V championship match in Irvine.

“She definitely grabbed everyone’s attention,” said Falcons first-year Coach Brent Danna. “My [high school] coach from El Toro came up to me after the game and said, ‘You owe your goalie a steak dinner.’”

While the Falcons basked in the glory of having won their first-ever CIF-SS plaque, Isacson’s reputation grew, as she was voted the Division V player of the year and the All-Area Girls’ Water Polo of the Year after an afternoon in the pool that Crescenta Valley polo fans won’t soon forget.

2 “Teddy Ballgame” wins league, May 10 — With a share of the Pacific League title on the line, Ted Boeke sent a long fly into the night and etched his name into Crescenta Valley High baseball lore.

With two outs in the top of the seventh and the Falcons down by two runs, up stepped mighty Boeke to the plate and, on the second pitch he saw, he sent a no-doubt, three-run home run far over the left-field fence, leading to the 5-4 win over archrival Arcadia that insured a share of the league crown.

“We were just trying to get Teddy up that inning some how, some way,” Falcons Coach Phil Torres said. “We grinded it out until we got the right guy up and that's what the league MVP does, he hits a home run to win the league championship.”

Boeke finished the game with three hits, three runs, a stolen base and three runs batted in off of one very memorable swing.

3 Cubs have no answer, no hits for Boeke, March 26 — Playing against an always-formidable Loyola club, Ted Boeke took the hill and dazzled.

Boeke went the distance, got the win and notched a no-hit shutout in the second game of a doubleheader at USC, as the Falcons prevailed, 1-0. Showcasing his all-around talents, he also doubled and scored the game’s only run, giving himself all the run support he needed.

Making the feat even more impressive, Loyola advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals later in the season. The win got the ball rolling for the Falcons on what would be a six-game winning streak that helped the squad to a Pacific League co-title.

4 Cartwright vs. Holiday, Jan. 5 — There were plenty of big games in the Prep League and CIF-SS postseason for All-Area first-teamer Robert Cartwright of the Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball team. But likely his highest profile performance came against the much ballyhooed Aaron Holiday and Campbell Hall in the San Fernando Hoops Showdown.

Holiday, the younger brother of NBA player Jrue Holiday, impressed with a game-high 29 points in the Vikings’ 66-61 win. But Cartwright held his own, drawing notice that the small-school star was, indeed, a big-time talent.

Cartwright turned in a team-high 27 points, shooting nine for 23 with four three-pointers in addition to five steals, five rebounds and four assists.

“It was pretty fun going against a future college star or maybe NBA star,” said Cartwright, who’s now received plenty of NCAA Division I interest. “I had been waiting for this the whole week and I think it was a great experience for everyone.”

5 Arman Momdzhyan, Nitros show who No. 1 is, Sept. 15, 2012 — A physical specimen and consummate go-to scorer, Arman Momdzhyan played big against the best.

The ultra-talented sophomore scored a team-high six goals against La Serna to lead the Glendale High boys’ water polo team to an exciting 14-12 win. The win came in the finals of the Los Altos Tournament, giving the Nitros a prestigious tourney title to call their own and, perhaps more importantly, a victory against a La Serna team ranked No. 1.

The Nitros took over the No. 1 spot in the CIF Southern Section Division V poll and never relinquished it, with Momdzhyan often leading the way, as Glendale advanced to its first-ever CIF-SS final.

6 Stephan Smith, Rebels outlast Ribet, Nov. 10, 2012 — Stephan Smith had myriad games of magnificence during the Rebels’ remarkable turnaround season, but on a Friday in November, his and the Rebels’ extra effort brought them their first playoff win since 2003.

Smith weaved his way for 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a career-high 25 carries, adding four catches for 37 yards and an interception in the Rebels’ 34-28 overtime win.

Smith’s second fourth-quarter touchdown propelled the game into overtime and his interception in overtime led to the game-winning score by Kareem Ismail.

7 Evan Crawford triple-double leads to quarters, Feb. 15 — Having fallen in each of the previous two seasons in the second round, St. Francis High’s basketball team finally cleared its hurdle en route to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals, defeating San Dimas, 61-38, in the Division III-A second round.

The win came in large part due to the versatile excellence of Evan Crawford, who turned in a rare triple-double, made all the more impressive due to the importance of the game and the magnitude of the stage.

Crawford finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Golden Knights.

8 Jash Francisco shoots down CV, Jan. 30 — Jash Francisco was deadly when the Tornadoes needed him most. Playing against a Crescenta Valley team that was in first place, Francisco and Hoover turned in arguably their finest game of the season.

Francisco scored a game-high 23 points — 21 coming on seven three-pointers.

“When I hit my first three, I figured I could be in for a good night,” he said, following the first Hoover win against rival Crescenta Valley since Jan 18, 2008.

9 Jesse Pina carries Hoover to historic win, Sept. 7, 2012 — For the first time since 2005, Hoover High football started a season 2-0 after a 33-28 win over South Pasadena and it largely came upon the workhorse performance of Jesse Pina.

The senior running back ran for five touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining, which concluded a drive keyed by a 40-yard catch by Pina. In all, Pina ran 17 times for 169 yards and caught three passes for 59 yards. The performance was extra special, as Pina had been dismissed from the team the previous season for disciplinary reasons.

“I am so happy,” Pina said. “After last year, after all my flaws, I’m happy.”

10 Jared Lebowitz throws circles around Swordsmen, Nov. 3, 2012 — The 2012 All-Area Football Player of the Year, Jared Lebowitz, had plenty of huge ball games against the likes of Righetti, La Mirada, Cathedral and Harvard-Westlake, but, against St. Paul, Lebowitz notched what was arguably St. Francis’ most important win of the season and likely its biggest highlight.

Lebowitz threw five touchdowns against St. Paul in a 34-14 win that snapped a five-game losing streak. He finished with 190 yards through the air, completing 15 of 21 passes in an efficient performance that saw the Golden Knights gunslinger hit four receivers for touchdown receptions.

It was the fifth time during the season that Lebowitz threw for three touchdowns or more and the second time he had five scoring throws. But in notching St. Francis’ only Mission League win of the season, the five scores against St. Paul might well have been the most important, as two days later, the Golden Knights received an at-large playoff berth.

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