LA CAÑADA —For the second consecutive game in the La Cañada Holiday Classic, the Glendale High boys’ basketball team succumbed to an opponent’s stellar long-range shooting.
After giving up 10 three-pointers to host La Cañada on Tuesday, the Nitros couldn’t find any solutions to prevent Mark Keppel from hitting nine from behind the arc and coming out victorious in a high-scoring 74-60 affair on Wednesday afternoon in a pool-play contest.
Glendale (3-3) had its hands full on defense, as they couldn’t close out on the Aztecs shooters mainly due to their center, Bertram Mak, having his way inside and providing a balanced offense. Mak led all scorers with 32 points.
“Really tough,” said Nitros Coach Steve Snodgress when asked about his defense’s daunting task of guarding inside and out on the perimeter. “They’re a great team. Their big guy played great today.
“We tried different combinations, but nothing worked. They had it going inside and outside.”
Despite the loss, Glendale’s offense was efficient in reaching the 60-point mark for the fourth time this season. Alex Miralis led the team with a fine performance, scoring a team-high 26 points and grabbing 19 rebounds.
The junior had eight points and eight rebounds after the first quarter that saw the two teams knotted at 15 points. Unfortunately for the Nitros, the Aztecs controlled all facets of the game in the second quarter, as they outscored Glendale, 26-12, in the frame and never looked back in the second half.
Mak’s presence inside gave the Aztecs good looks from the perimeter and they took advantage, connecting on five three-point field goals in the second quarter to break the game open. Adam Thompson put in nine of his 21 for the now 6-1 Aztecs.
“We need to work a lot,” said Miralis, who fouled out in the late stages of the game as the Nitros were trying to overcome a double-digit deficit. “We need to improve our conditioning and we need to a better job of closing out. We’re either going to face big teams or teams that can shoot, and this team shot the ball well.”
Glendale scored the first five points of the third quarter on a Miralis put-back and a three-pointer from Eric Kirakosian. The Nitros cut the deficit to as little as six at 48-42 midway through the frame, but the Aztecs held them there and finished the quarter strong to re-take a double-digit advantage that would be sustained in the fourth quarter.
The Nitros made four field goals in the fourth, resulting in their lowest scoring output of any of the four quarters (10). Arthur Terzyan, who usually provides a solid inside game, accumulated fewer minutes than his average, including zero in the fourth and scored just six points.
“We had to work with different defensive matchups and it affected [Terzyan’s] minutes,” Snodgress said. “It hurts us, because he can’t be out there when we’re playing man [defense].”
Despite the loss, Snodgress was pleased with what he saw from his junior forward.
“Alex carried us,” he said. “He played an outstanding game, dug it out and kept the game in sight. Despite the loss, he should be proud of how he played.”
After the game, Miralis said he talked to his coaches beforehand and was told to just worry about the next play. In response, he said he didn’t think about anything other than the next play and played more loose than in any previous game this season.
The Nitros will continue play in the Holiday Classic on Friday, as they take on Marina of Huntington Beach.
“It’s been a tough week for us and it doesn’t get easier,” Snodgress said. “We’ll use the day off to think things through. There are still a couple positions on the perimeter that are still up for grabs before we can settle into a lineup.”