Flintridge Prep baseball team's comeback tops season of wild rides

The top 10 high school games from the 2012-13 season were selected by the sports writers of the Glendale News-Press.

1 Flintridge Prep baseball stages dramatic comeback over Crean Lutheran, 4-3, for historic playoff run, May 24 - It appeared the Flintridge Prep baseball team was going to have be content with being in the CIF Southern Section Division VI quarterfinals.

Faced with a 3-0 deficit headed into the bottom of the seventh inning at the Glendale Sports Complex, the fourth-seeded Rebels, who missed the playoffs the previous year, felt like they were going to have to settle until they were aided by two Crean Lutheran defensive miscues.

Scott Tsangeos started Flintridge Prep’s attack when he smacked a one-out single and moved to second when a potential game-ending double-play ball off the bat of Dylan Arya was botched and kept hope alive for Prep with one out and runners at first and second.

“What you saw out there was crazy,” Arya said after the game. “I even thought when I hit the ball that the game was over, but I kept hustling to first and we were given a second life.

“You don’t expect these things to happen, but it gives you confidence that you can win when something like this does happen.”

Brenden McKiernan and Cole Rademacher then provided what were the biggest blasts of the game for Flintridge Prep. McKiernan pulled Prep within a run with a two-run triple to right-center and Rademacher knotted the score at 3 with a single.

Cole Pilar and Karlsen Termini were then given free passes to load the bases. Disappointment turned to elation once again for the Rebels when Daniel Enzminger struck out for what appeared to be out No. 2 before the ball skipped past the catcher to score Rademacher and complete the miraculous comeback.

It turned what was a quality campaign, with the Rebels winning their first share of a Prep League title and advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1997, into a truly historic one. Prep not only won its first playoff game in 14 years, but advanced to the CIF semifinals for the first time since 1960 under first-year coach Guillermo Gonzalez, who was named the All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year.

2 Flintridge Prep football defeats Ribet Academy football in overtime, 34-28, Nov. 9, 2012 - Merely being in the playoffs for the first time in four years would have been plenty to celebrate for the Flintridge Prep football team. It wasn't ready to see its turnaround season end, even after Ribet took a 28-22 lead with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division playoffs.

While the Rebels were known for their running game all year long, it was their aerial attack of quarterback Clayton Weirick and 6-foot-7 wide receiver Kareem Ismail that led them to the 34-28 victory. The two connected for a 24-yard pass that advanced the Rebels to the one-yard line with 21 seconds left, which set up a two-yard Stefan Smith touchdown run a couple of plays later to tie the contest on the road.

Ribet took the ball to start overtime but came up empty after a 32-yard touchdown pass was erased on a flag and a fourth-down interception from Smith, who ran for 189 yards on 25 carries.

Weirick and Ismail ended the game and delivered Prep's first playoff victory since 2003 — when it won the CIF Southern Section Division XIII championship title — when the two teamed up again for a 15-yard touchdown.

“We know Kareem is a great athlete,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison, who got 100 yards rushing in 11 carries from running back Kurt Kozacik. “He wanted to be a wide receiver this year and I told him he's got it.

“He made the big plays when he needed to. Our guys played hard.”

It was an exclamation mark on a season where Prep had a chance to exorcise its demons from the past two years. After 2011 raised serious concerns about the sustainability of Flintridge Prep’s program when it followed a 2-6-1 season with a 1-9 campaign that included two forfeits when an 18-man season-opening roster was ransacked by injuries.

“They’ve done something that no team at Flintridge Prep has done in 10 years,” Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison said of his team when the season came to an end. “I told them when they come back in 10 years and Flintridge Prep tradition is strong where it used to be, it will be because of this team this year.”

3 Crescenta Valley girls’ water polo wins first-ever ever CIF Southern Section title off Riverside Poly, 10-5, Feb. 23 – While they weren’t the most dramatic, the Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo team was certainly responsible for the biggest and most impressive wins in the 2012-13 seasons.

In one night, the Falcons atoned for years of heartbreak — after being ousted in the semifinals the previous two seasons and four times total — when they defeated Riverside Poly, 10-5, for their first CIF championship in the Southern Section’s Division V.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal. You know, we went through so much to get to this point,” said the Falcons’ Katie Benson (three times goals), after the game. “Our hard worked paid off.

“To be the first team in Crescenta Valley history, to be the first girls’ team to win is awesome. We wanted to leave a legacy of winning.”

Win or lose, it was a historic day for top-seeded Crescenta Valley in its inaugural trip to the finals. It fittingly proved victorious with what had been its backbone all season, a stifling defense and all-around offensive effort, at the William J. Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.

Backed by a dominating 16-save performance in the cage from goalie Gabriel Isacson, the Falcons put the game away early in the fourth quarter. Isacson and the rest of the Falcons’ defense held Riverside Poly to just one goal on six six-on-five opportunities and one for two on five-meter penalty shots.

Crescenta Valley took an early lead and never let it go. With a narrow 3-2 edge with 3:22 left in the second quarter, Benson rattled home a goal to go up, 4-2. Riverside Poly didn’t come any closer.

4 St. Francis soccer picks up playoff win over Canyon Springs on penalties, 5-5 (4-3), Feb. 13 - Simply put, the St. Francis soccer team’s wild-card game in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs lived up to the billing.

The Golden Knights found themselves with 2-0 and 4-1 deficits in the first half, but launched a furious second-half comeback until they improbably took a 5-4 lead on goals from Brookes Treidler, Griffin O’Brien and Ricky Francia with the go-ahead tally coming from Alex Pidoux in the 74th minute.

“Even down, 4-1, I never thought for a single second we wouldn’t win this game,” Treidler said. “This is a team that typically has one good half. Luckily we scored four goals in that half.”

No more than a minute later, all of St. Francis’ momentum was zapped when it gave up an equalizer that sent the game to penalty kicks to determine who would move on.

Two off-target penalties from Canyon Springs delivered the momentum and victory back to the Golden Knights, who won the penalty-kick portion, 4-3, on converted kicks from Jacob Anderson, O’Brien, Frankie Veiga and Treidler.

5 Glendale boys’ water polo loses lead, CIF title match with Pasadena Poly 12-10, Nov. 17, 2012 - With a three-goal lead headed into the final period of its first-ever CIF Southern Section championship game, the Glendale High boys’ water polo team was also on the verge of its first CIF Southern Section title in Division V.

Third-seeded Pasadena Poly’s quick counter-attack began to wear on the Nitros in the fourth quarter, as they allowed a 6-1 run over the final seven minutes to lose, 12-10, at Irvine’s William J. Woollett Aquatics Center.

Arman Momdzhyan, Glendale’s big man in the middle, was the focus of Poly’s stout defense and was held to just two goals in the game. The Nitros effectively used their inside-out attack through the first three quarters with Momdzhyan kicking out to his shooters, like David Papazian (team-high four goals) and Martin Chatalyan (three goals), before it was held to just one tally in the fourth.

“Arman’s our go-to guy, he’s had a tremendous year,” Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said after the game. “He did his job, he was able to put the ball in the hands of our outside shooters and our outside shooters just weren’t able to make Poly pay.”

6 Crescenta Valley baseball completes comeback over rival Arcadia on Ted Boeke’s bomb, May 10 - In a season of clutch performances from Ted Boeke, none was bigger than the game-winning three-run homer he hit with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning of the crucial 5-4 victory. It came in the Crescenta Valley High baseball team’s regular and Pacific League finale with the league title on the line at long-time rival Arcadia High’s field.

“We grinded it out until we got the right guy up and that's what the league MVP does,” Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres prophetically said of Boeke, “he hits a home run to win the league championship.”

It was Crescenta Valley’s ninth straight win and second straight year winning at least a share of the league title, as it shared the honor with Burbank.

While Boeke’s dinger shined brightest, there were other standout and hustle performances to set up the winning hit. The Falcons’ other impact player, sophomore ace Brian Gadsby, also stayed strong.

The submarine-throwing righty got the complete-game victory and allowed six hits, no walks, hit three batters and struck out nine to help avenge the Falcons’ 3-2 loss to Arcadia earlier in the year.

Adrian Damla and Joe Torres did the little things to set up Boeke’s winning shot. First, Damla drew a full-count, leadoff walk and then Joe Torres struck out on a wild pitch that went to the fence before he beat the throw to first to bring Boeke and the go-ahead run to the plate.

7 Crescenta Valley boys’ soccer wins first-round playoff games with Placentia Valencia in overtime, 3-2, Feb. 15 - It took a golden goal from Erick Trejo, but the Crescenta Valley High boys’ soccer team overcame a 2-0 deficit for its CIF Southern Section Division III first-round playoff win over Placentia Valencia, 3-2.

Trejo’s game-ending goal came eight minutes into sudden-death overtime and was set up by a cross from Russell Carpenter, who beat his defender to a ball that came to him on a pass from Justin Wright.

“Oh my goodness,” Falcons Coach Grant Clark said after the win. “We pushed every button we could today to win this one. It was a fun one.

“It’s a credit to the kids. To be able to come back was a lot of fun.”

Valencia scored the first two goals of the game in the 37th and 53rd minute. Pablo Sotillo got on the board in the 57th minute and Wright knotted the game in the 65th minute on a Chris Sinani cross.

8 Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball goes five games for playoff win over Whitney, 3-2, May 7 - Maybe the Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball team took a sigh of relief after winning a dramatic first game. Because then an opportunistic Whitney sucked the air out of Prep’s gym by winning the next two games. As the end drew near, both squads had the building holding its breath.

Rebels outside hitter Chadd Cosse finally ended the match in the home team’s favor with a monster spike after also opening up the fifth and deciding game with a kill. It delivered a 25-18, 22-25, 24-26, 25-22, 15-11 win to open the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs for the Prep League champion Rebels, a year after they missed the postseason.

“Both teams played on an emotional roller coaster. It's either you're up or you're down,” Rebels Coach Sean Beattie said. “It was an up-and-down game. It was a solid game by both teams.”

With the first game knotted at 12, Prep pulled away with a 5-0 run — the longest run of the match — en route to an opening victory. Flintridge Prep quickly found itself on its heels with a respective 13 and seven unforced errors in the second- and third-game losses.

Flintridge Prep rebounded and took an early lead in the fourth game and sealed it on a 3-0 run with Cosse, who ended up with a match-high 17 kills, supplying the game-winning kill. The senior continued his torrid play in the fifth game to keep the Rebels’ season alive.

9 Crescenta Valley boys’ basketball edges Pasadena, 57-54, Jan. 16 - For the second year in a row, the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team knocked the formidable and perennial Pacific League and CIF Southern Section power Pasadena off its stride in the Falcons’ gym.

There were 10 lead changes and four ties in the fourth quarter when the Falcons’ statistical and emotional leader, Cole Currie, who was cold all game, rose to the moment.

With Pasadena hanging onto a 54-52 lead with 25 seconds left, Currie drilled a go-ahead three-pointer after he aired another long-range shot 32 ticks earlier.

“We knew Pasadena would come out and get after him tonight,” Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian said of Currie that night. “He didn't force a shot, he stayed the course, believed in himself and made it when it mattered. He went on a 5-0 run by himself in the last 30 seconds, that's the sign of a great player.”

Currie, who finished with 18 points and was eventually named co-league player of the year, then padded the lead when he sank both one-plus-one free throws with 5.4 seconds to go after Crescenta Valley’s Berj Krikorian forced a steal on Pasadena’s ensuing possession.

While Currie made the final statement, the Falcons wouldn’t have stood a chance in the back-and-forth affair without Nick Springer’s game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. The junior scored his team’s first nine points and 13 of its 15 in the first quarter to give them a 15-12 edge headed to the second.

Pasadena closed the first half on a 10-0 run for a 31-25 lead at the intermission. Currie and Springer tied the game back at 34 with 2:57 to play in the third frame when they combined for back-to-back threes.

Consecutive Pasadena layups gave the visitors another lead, 47-45, with just over four minutes to go. Springer put the home team back on top, 52-49, with a corner three with about two minutes to play.

10 Glendale football shocks Crescenta Valley, 20-17, Oct. 19, 2012 - A trick play sealed the Glendale High football team’s biggest win in half a decade over Pacific League opponent Crescenta Valley.

After falling behind, 17-7, through the first three quarters, the Nitros rallied for a historic 20-17 victory on a reverse pass from one receiver, Michael Davis, to another, Martin Marin.

It went for a 60-yard touchdown with Marin bobbling before securing the ball and sprinting his way home in the final minutes on a third-down play that came after Glendale converted a fourth-and-one a few plays earlier.

It was a historic victory, the Nitros first against the Falcons in nine years and their first league victory against a team other than Hoover in five years. It was made possible by Glendale’s defense and Crescenta Valley’s sloppy offensive play late.

Even with first down at Glendale’s five-yard line, the Falcons failed to score after Kyle Tavizon opened the second half with an 85-yard kickoff return. Two negative yardage plays and two penalties pushed the Falcons out of field-goal distance.

Glendale built on the momentum but didn’t pull any closer until the fourth quarter after it had struggled offensively through the first three when it managed 183 yards and five first downs.

Marin, who finished with five receptions for 134 yards, and Glendale quarterback Kevin Felix first connected for a 36-yard touchdown pass that pulled their side within a score, 17-13, with 7:43 left to play. The Nitros then forced a punt from a Crescenta Valley team that committed 13 penalties for 96 yards in the contest.

With one last shot at redemption, the Falcons couldn’t move on Glendale’s defense and turned the ball over on downs after four consecutive incomplete passes.

It erased a solid game from Falcons running back William Wang, who tallied 172 yards and a touchdown. Christian Osorio provided Glendale’s other score on a three-yard run for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

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