LA CRESCENTA — At halftime, Eric Patten had a message delivered to him.
The Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball senior forward was told by coach Shawn Zargarian that he had registered just three first-half rebounds and he would need to show vast improvement in the second half.
Patten got the memo and enjoyed a quick turnaround, as he collected 11 of his 14 rebounds in the second half to help host Crescenta Valley to an 80-61 pool-play victory against La Salle on Wednesday night in the Falcon Classic.
“He came up and said that I needed to pick it up with my rebounding,” said Patten, who finished with a game-high 29 points to help the Falcons improve to 4-3. “I needed to be more physical under the boards.
“I like to rebound and I knew I had to pick it up.”
Crescenta Valley, which received 21 points and 13 rebounds from junior guard Kevin Dinges, will next meet Cesar Chavez, who Crescenta Valley beat last week at the San Fernando Valley Invitational, in a final pool-play game at 7 p.m. Thursday. A victory Thursday would put the Falcons in the championship game at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
The 6-foot-6 Patten and the Falcons held the Lancers (2-4) at bay in the second half. Crescenta Valley held a 40-33 halftime advantage and rarely allowed second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We were able to rebound and push the ball upcourt,” said Patten, who had 15 first-half points. “We were able to catch their defense off guard and get some big baskets.”
Patten converted on a three-point play to give the Falcons, who advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I-A semifinals and state tournament last season, a 51-42 lead with 3:44 left in the third quarter. He recorded an offensive rebound and scored on a layup to make it 66-51 with 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Zargarian said Patten responded well in the second half.
“I told him at halftime that three rebounds was unacceptable,” said Zargarian, whose team began the tournament Tuesday with a 76-74 overtime victory against Verdugo Hills. “I just said to rebound the ball and he did a much better job of it [in the second half].
“When he’s aggressive and active, he can do a lot on the floor.”
Dinges enjoyed another quality effort Wednesday after finishing with 24 points against Verdugo Hills. He had eight second-half rebounds.
Dinges scored on a layup to give the Falcons a 30-28 lead midway through the second quarter and complete a 10-0 run. La Salle took a 28-20 lead on a three-point play by JoeAl Akobian with 5:51 remaining in the first half.
Patten, who had 26 points versus Verdugo Hills, made a short jump shot to give the Falcons a 9-4 advantage with 5:37 to go in the first quarter. No fouls were called in the first quarter.
La Salle received a team-high 17 points from Jason Dalcour.