SAN GABRIEL — There are few area teams whose fates rise and fall more along the three-point line than that of the Pasadena Armenian General Benevolent Union boys’ basketball squad.
At times, the Spartans have generated as much as 80% of their offense from behind the arc.
With the victory, the Division V-A third-ranked Eagles (10-7 overall, 5-0 in league) swept the season series against No. 11 AGBU (3-7, 2-2), which entered having won three of its last four games.
“We just didn’t hit our shots. I’ve got legit three-point shooters, but the length of [San Gabriel Academy] makes it difficult,” Spartans Coach Richard Harris said. “Those shots are a part of their game and I don’t want to take that away from them or kill their confidence, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen us shoot this poorly.”
Despite trailing by as many as 27 points late in the second quarter, the Spartans battled back and sliced their deficit to under 20 points when a steal from Armand Yerjanian led to a breakaway layup from senior forward George Gevrikyan as AGBU pulled within 46-28 with 4:49 left in the third.
Even though San Gabriel Academy quickly answered with a running layup from 6-foot-6 forward Josh Ajayi (12 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks) to put the lead back at 20, AGBU continued to chip away.
The Spartans launched a 9-3 run over the next 3:18 fueled by four points apiece from senior guard Andrew Tahmazian (nine points) and by the game’s leading scorer, senior guard Andy Ketsoyan, who paced AGBU with 28 points.
Tahmazian’s jumper with 1:31 left, set up on a steal and assist from Nareg Tarinian, brought the Spartans within 51-37 and led to a timeout from Eagles Coach Kevin McCloskey.
While AGBU’s climb to within 14 points was built on layups and perimeter jumpers, the Spartans were unable to trim any more of their deficit as they attempted five three-pointers over their final six possessions of the quarter and missed on all their chances.
Meanwhile, San Gabriel Academy scored six of the quarter’s final eight points in going up 57-39 to finish the third.
“If we make our three-pointers, we’re right there,” Ketsoyan said. “It was just an off-night. We never shoot like this and if we would have made a few more, this would have been a different game. We were right there.”
AGBU scored the first point of the fourth to close the gap to 57-40, but San Gabriel Academy answered back with five straight points, including on a baseline layup from 6-9 center Ricky Guo (16 points) that put the Eagles up, 62-40. AGBU’s deficit never again went under 20 points.
While AGBU played well in the second half and only lost the last two quarters, 34-26, the Spartans were completely outgunned early.
AGBU trailed, 22-6, after one quarter after shooting two for 18 from the field.
Eventually, the Eagles led, 41-15, with 1:13 remaining in the first half before the Spartans closed out the quarter with a 7-1 run highlighted by a buzzer-beating jumper from Ketsoyan that put AGBU behind, 42-22, at the half.