Nitros rally past Knights

 Simply put, the Glendale High boys' basketball team didn't hit the panic button when seemingly spiraling out of control Monday night.

The Nitros found themselves in a deep hole early against St. Francis in a pool-play game of the La Cañada Holiday Classic at La Cañada High. Then, Glendale regrouped, thanks to a big effort from its budding center.

David Yetenikyan finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and a pair of blocks to help rally Glendale to a 61-53 victory.

"Nobody pointed fingers when we were down in the first quarter," said the 6-5 Yetenikyan, who had both blocked shots in the final three seconds of the third quarter. "We started hitting shots in the second quarter and things started to go our way.

"[Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress] said to keep shooting and the ball would go in the net."

The Nitros (2-3) trailed, 19-4, at the end of the first quarter. In fact, Glendale, which won its second game in a row, trailed, 13-0, just past the midway point of the opening stanza.

Judging by the way St. Francis (3-3) played in the first quarter, the Golden Knights, ranked No. 13 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA, appeared to have an easy night ahead of them.

Not so fast, St. Francis co-Coach Ray O'Brien said.

"Glendale came out with not much intensity," said O'Brien, who saw Golden Knights guard Emerson Castaneda finish with a game-high 25 points. "We were aggressive in the first quarter and then they were aggressive and we became passive.

"They played good defense and we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times."

Glendale got a three-pointer from Yetenikyan to give the Nitros a 34-30 lead with 1:47 left in the third quarter. St. Francis, which held a 27-24 halftime lead, could get no closer than 56-53 with 34 seconds left in the game. Glendale then made five of six free throws the remainder of the way to ice the victory.

Snodgress said the Nitros needed to chip away at St. Francis' gigantic lead.

"You have to play your best to beat a team like St. Francis," Snodgress said. "We didn't panic after we fell behind and we were able to play defense and that helped get us going.

"It gives us confidence that we can come back like that."

Anthony Tahmazian added 16 points for Glendale, while Suren Gyurgchyan chipped in 12. For St. Francis, Zack Gardea had 12 points and Ben Maynard added 10 points and seven rebounds.

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