Yassemeen “Yazzy” Sa’ Dullah was one of the best girls basketball players in the Pacific League for several seasons, but is now toiling as a point guard for the University of West Virginia.
Because her 18 point scoring average, seven rebounds and three steals will be missing from the lineup, longtime Burbank High Coach Bruce Breeden feels it will take a “team effort” in order to fill her substantial shoes.
Last season, Sa’ Dullah helped the Bulldogs finish 16-14 overall, 9-5 in the Pacific League for third place, and advance to the second-round of CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs.
“The Pacific League looks to be between Crescenta Valley, Burroughs and Arcadia at the top,” Breeden said. “We’re in that next tier, but we could move into that top section. But I think we’re going to be competitive.”
Burbank opens its league campaign on Jan. 5 at Muir, hosts Burroughs on Jan. 22, and visits the Indians on Feb. 11.
The Bulldogs are 6-1 after playing in the San Gabriel Valley Tournament and the Burroughs Tournament.
Burbank’s starting five includes senior power forward Christina Mkrtchyan, junior center Emma Kerr, junior small forward Sabrina Zakarian, senior point guard Ani Sarkisyan and freshman shooting/point guard Osanna Tirityan.
“Christina is a three-year varsity player and a two-year starter,” Breeden said of the 5-foot-8 Mkrtchyan. “She’s a hard worker and is one of the best shooters. She’s a vocal leader and a captain. This is going to be her breakout year.”
Kerr, at 6-0, is expected to be a force in the middle and contribute points and rebound. “Emma has made great strides in the off-season,” Breeden said. “She rebounds well and is a good defender.”
Breeden sees good things from the 5-9 Zakarian. “This will be her first year on the varsity, but there’s lots of upside,” he pointed out. “She rebounds well and is developing an outside game. The only thing she lacks is varsity experience.”
Breeden said the 5-5 Sarkisyan is the boss on the floor. “Ani is the floor leader and she has a year of experience,” he said. “She’s getting stronger and has really worked on her game.”
According to Breeden, the 5-9 Tirityan is still developing her skills. “The big thing with Osanna is that she has a lot of upside,” he said. “She has good size and has an excellent basketball IQ. She’ll have a major role this season.”
Senior shooting guard Lenneah Hope-Pasion is 5-9, and the first off the bench. “She’s high energy and smart,” Breeden said. “She always knows where the ball is and she likes to run and is an exciting player.”
Meanwhile 5-8 junior power forward Sarah Sarquiz is coming off a torn ACL, but is happy to be getting a chance to play basketball.
“She’s just excited to put on a uniform,” Breeden said. “She likes to bang on defense and is a great utility player. Right now she’s not in playing shape but will be by the time Pacific League starts.”
The rest of the team shapes up as follows: 5-7 senior guard Coleen Shamalian, 5-5 senior point guard Celine Shamalian, 5-4 senior shooting guard Jamie Alonzo, 5-7 junior small forward Stephanie Grigorian, 5-6 junior shooting guard Emily Pennings, and 5-4 freshman shooting/point guard Rita Khechumyan.