LA CRESCENTA — After seeing a nine-point lead evaporate late in the fourth quarter, Berj Krikorian made sure the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team didn’t sink in overtime.
Krikorian, a junior guard, rescued the Falcons in spectacular fashion.
Krikorian scored on a driving layup with three seconds left in overtime to lift host Crescenta Valley to a 76-74 victory against Verdugo Hills on Tuesday night in a pool-play contest of the Falcon Classic.
Krikorian scored all six of his points in the four-minute overtime to help the Falcons improve to 3-3 with another pool-play game on tap for 7 p.m. Wednesday against La Salle. Crescenta Valley outscored Verdugo Hills, 10-8, in overtime.
“We had to be able to stay poised and show character,” said Krikorian, who converted on a three-point play off a nice steal by teammate Connor Van Ginkel to knot it at 74 with 52 seconds left in overtime. “It had to start with us being tough defensively and Connor came through with that huge steal.
“On the winning basket, I saw an open lane and took it to the basket and was able to score.”
The Falcons, who advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I-A semifinals and appeared in the state tournament last season, squandered a 63-54 advantage with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter. The Dons (3-3) tied it at 66 on a three-pointer by Erick Esparza with 11 seconds left in regulation to complete a 12-3 run.
Still, Krikorian and the Falcons found a way to regroup heading into overtime.
“We’ve lost a couple of close games,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian, who received 26 points from Eric Patten and 24 from Kevin Dinges. “We were up by nine here and we couldn’t hold on to it.
“We are young and inexperienced. We had somebody like Berg, who has been struggling and seeing his minutes go up and down, come through and make a couple of big plays.”
Things appeared murky for the Falcons, who saw Ezparza make a three-pointer to give Verdugo Hills a 74-71 advantage with 1:16 left in overtime. The Falcons couldn’t capitalize on their next possession and the Dons seemed to have the game in hand.
However, Van Ginkel picked off a errant pass and promptly threaded a perfect pass to Krikorian, who scored and was fouled. Krikorian made the free throw, giving the Falcons some momentum.
“That’s a great athletic play by Connor,” Zargarian said. “He brings us a lot of toughness and athleticism and you saw right there how. It’s just a big-time play.”
The Falcons held a 32-21 halftime advantage. Patten collected 18 first-half points, including 10 in the first quarter, to keep the Falcons afloat.