By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
Ranked No. 2 in CIF Division IA and the proud owners of the Section’s longest active winning streak at 18 games, the Burroughs High girls basketball team faced its toughest test yet in its quest for a third consecutive Pacific League title. And as they have done for the past 24 times in league play, the Indians prevailed.
In another dramatic and exciting game, Burroughs edged host Crescenta Valley, 35-33, to take a two-game lead in the league standings with four games left to play. The Indians won their 19th straight contest with a gutty defensive effort on the road.
“We never talk about the streak. It’s always one game at a time,” senior Delaney Nicol said. “We have to get through every team. Every game is big for us at this point. We just want to keep it going.”
After Chloe Takeuchi made one of two free throws to give JBHS a 35-33 advantage with 18.7 seconds left, Crescenta Valley’s Polina Megerdichian misfired on a three-point shot with four seconds left.
Though she felt she was fouled in the act of shooting, Megerdichian’s shot fell short into the hands of Burroughs’ Sienna Brown who quickly passed the ball to Nicol as time expired. The Indians defeated the Falcons for a fourth consecutive time by four points or less spanning the last two seasons.
“It came down to half court man-to-man. It was low scoring because both teams are good on defense,” Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan said. “We got a great stop. Sometime things happen to go your way.”
Brooke Radcliff’s defensive stand on Megerdichian resulted in some contact but not enough for the officials to blow their whistles.
“I knew she was a shooter,” Radcliff said. “I knew she wanted the three so all I could do was put my hands up and hope I didn’t foul her or it wouldn’t go in. That’s all you can do in that situation.”
Holding her collective breath, Radcliff exhaled when the horn sounded setting off a wild Indians’ celebration at midcourt.
“It was an absolutely amazing feeling,” she said.
Burroughs (23-2, 10-0) jumped out to an early 7-1 lead as the Indians took a 12-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Crescenta Valley (14-7, 7-2) responded with a 9-2 run to go up 17-14 midway through the second period.
The Indians entered intermission trailing 19-18 lead after Haley Wilson converted a layup at the buzzer courtesy of an outstanding hustle play by Brown.
The third quarter turned into a slugfest as both teams battled back and forth. Five lead changes highlighted the quarter with the Indians holding a slim 29-28 lead after three quarters.
Davina Del Castillo, who scored a game-high 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds, knocked down a triple from the top of the key on the first possession of the final quarter giving the Indians a 32-28 lead. Del Castillo’s basket with 3:31 remaining made it 34-31.
The Falcons scored with 42 seconds left to cut the deficit to 34-33. With the shot clock winding down, Takeuchi pulled up for a jumper and was fouled. She connected on one free throw setting up the controversial finish.
Takeuchi finished with seven points while Brown had six points and eight rebounds.
When it was all said and done, Burroughs had moved one step closer to a three-peat in league.
“We can’t think about that,” Oganyan said. “We have to keep playing one game at a time.”
“We knew this was going to be the biggest one of the season if we could get it. Every game against CV is really close,” added Nicol, who recorded four assists on the night. “When we went into the fourth quarter, we just knew we had to keep doing what we’ve been doing in every fourth quarter. We got it done.”
Despite 20 points from David Schwer and 14 by Steven Hubbell, the Indians lost 67-55 to Crescenta Valley. Burroughs trailed 23-17 after the first quarter and 40-33 at halftime. A solid performance by JBHS in the third quarter cut the Falcons’ lead to 45-44 entering the fourth period.
Crescenta Valley opened the quarter on a 10-1 run to extend its lead to 55-45. The Indians fell to 12-10 overall and 4-6 in league.