By Rick Assad
This season it’s going to be slightly different for the Burroughs High and city rival Burbank girls’ basketball teams.
This is because both will have to replace a number of key contributors from last season.
Gone from the Bears, who finished 14-10 in all games and 6-1 in the Pacific League, are center Faith Boulanger, power forward Kayla Wrobel and shooting guard Dyani Del Castillo.
That squad advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division II AA playoffs just like the previous team.
For the Bulldogs, who posted a 6-7 mark and 1-6 in league and missed the playoffs, it is point guard Kim Pimentel and shooting guard Erika Montoya.
Despite the loss of talent, each team is more than capable of capturing the league title.
“We have a really young team considering only Noor [Fahs] and Izzy [Roderick] played big minutes on the varsity last year,” said Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan. “Rachel [Little] and Ivana [Razov] know what it takes and now need to step up and play major contributing roles.”
Oganyan, who played hoops for Glendale High and is in her second season as a point guard at Glendale Community College, spoke about what the team’s goals are.
“Everyone is going to have to learn quickly and contribute. Even the sophomores are super young because last year [COVID-19] they played some games on the junior varsity, but didn’t get that full experience,” she said.
Burroughs will have as starters this season senior forward Fahs, who is a four-year varsity starter and was selected league honorable mention based on her sophomore campaign, Roderick, a three-year varsity starter and forward who was a key contributor last season, junior guard Razov, who should be an impact player, junior guard Little, who is also the catcher on the varsity softball team, and sophomore forward Martin, who is an outstanding athlete and a quick study.
The reserves include senior Hailey Dowthwaite, junior Kylie Indefenzo, sophomore Karly Geris, a solid defender and a terrific athlete, sophomore Natalie Sanchez, freshman Skylar Cafferty and freshman Mariam Fahs.
Oganyan believes it will be a battle for the league crown, something a bit different than in past years when the Bears practically dominated.
“I expect the league to be tough as usual. The teams and the coaching are solid which makes it very challenging,” she said. “The new schedule is going to be hard to deal with as well, but we can’t control that so we are just going to focus on things we can control which is getting better every day at our fundamentals and our IQ on the court and putting maximum effort to prepare.”
Though Bruce Breeden is still technically the head coach, the bench coach will be one-time Crescenta Valley High hoop standout Kris Jabourian, who graduated in 2013.
Jabourian was a member of two Falcons teams that reached the CIF Southern Section semifinals as a junior and senior and also went to the first round of the state championship.
“I’m trying to create a community and family atmosphere here at Burbank,” he said. “I have a good group of girls. They have a high basketball IQ. It’s all about growth.”
Jabourian, who has been a longtime girls’ varsity assistant at CV, believes this team has what it takes to compete for a league crown, and stresses defense as the first priority.
“Our goal is to hold the other team to 40 points or less,” he said of that lofty standard. “Defense wins championships. It’s all about being competitive.”
Starting for the Bulldogs will be senior point guard Christina Ohanians, senior shooting guard Emily Megerdichian, senior shooting guard Alle Tarvirdi, senior power forward Tabitha Cruz and junior power forward Karen Casillas.
“I see this as a playoff team, but there is always room for improvement,” Jabourian said.
The rest of the team includes senior Jasmine Moss, senior power forward Nadia Valenzuela, junior power forward Shelby Cribbs, junior shooting guard Heghine Grigoryan, junior shooting guard Rheanna Ocampo, sophomore point guard Nikaela Damasen and freshman power forward Lauren Navarro.