By Dick Dornan
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
With the crowd on its feet and the clock winding down, the annual renewal of the Burroughs – Burbank boys’ basketball rivalry came down to one shot. Lawrence White’s 16-foot jumper from the right wing with four seconds left fell short allowing Burbank to prevail, 55-52, in a Pacific League showdown Friday night at JBHS.
Andy Yanikyan recorded a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds as Burbank (12-8, 4-3) maintained its hold on to fourth place in league while Burroughs (12-7, 2-5) fell deeper into a hole. The top four teams earn an automatic berth into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
“Big game for us today. I’m glad we came up with the win,” Yanikyan said. “It’s a new team, a first-year coach, and I am really proud of the guys. I’m speechless right now.”
Before a capacity crowd, both teams scrapped, clawed and competed to the very last second with the surprising Bulldogs willing themselves to victory. BHS did not return one player on its roster from a year ago.
“I think the kids are getting some identity. We really believe in our pressure. Our guys are playing resilient and they know they are going to win,” Burbank Coach Jerry DeLaurie said. “I love Burbank Unified. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this tradition. I’m happy for those kids in that locker room.”
“In the huddles we just came together. We trusted each other. We said we are brothers and we can get this win,” Yanikyan added. “The belief is there. No doubt about it. We are doing a great job so far.”
Entering the fourth quarter, Burroughs held a slim 42-41 lead and proceeded to score on a driving left hand layup from White to make it 44-41.
Burbank responded on a 9-0 run as part of a 13-2 spurt to take a 50-44 lead with 4:41 remaining.
White, who scored a team-high 18 points, converted a lay-up to cut the deficit to 50-48.
A steal and assist from Sarkis Karian to Yanikyan increased the BHS lead back to four points only for the Indians’ John Cutone to drill a three-pointer from the right wing with 1:20 left.
Leading 52-51, Richard Elmoyan (11 points) made an acrobatic running floater across the lane for Burbank. Kalen Verhoeven (12 points) made one of two free throws with 44 seconds left for Burroughs to set up the wild finish.
Two possessions later, Verhoeven took a charge from Elmoyan giving the Indians the ball with 20.7 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, White held the ball at the top of the key and dribbled precious seconds away. Drawing two defenders, White took off to his right and pulled up for a shot that came up short. Karian rebounded the loose ball and made one free throw to cap off the huge win for Burbank.
“This is the first time that these guys played with confidence in the fourth quarter. They really felt that they were going to come back,” DeLaurie said. “They started playing with more poise, made some big shots and the defense really suffocated them. I really believe we can win fourth quarter games.”
Burbank set the tone early taking a commanding 16-9 advantage which led to an 18-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. Yanikyan and Elmoyan combined for all of the Bulldogs points.
Burroughs roared back courtesy of a 14-2 run to lead 27-20 with 4:11 left in the first half. White scored 12 first-half points as the Indians led 31-26 at the break.
Both teams battled back and forth in the third quarter with the Indians up 35-29 and the Bulldogs fighting back to tie it at 37 apiece.
A momentum changing play occurred moments later when White missed a dunk that resulted in a Burbank buzzer beating shot on the other end that left Burroughs up one, 42-41, entering the final period.
Burbank connected on 17 of 18 free throws for the game while Burroughs struggled making only 12 of 21.
“We found too many ways to lose this one. This is another example of where we have to get better mentally,” Burroughs Coach Adam Hochberg said. “We have lost the mental capacity to stay truly competitive for 32 minutes. But credit to them. They made the plays and we didn’t.”
The cross-town rivalry continues on Feb. 7 at Burbank High.