By Jim Riggio
Special to BurbankNBeyond
Not too many people were giving the Burbank High boys’ basketball team a chance Tuesday night when the Bulldogs hosted second-seeded Santa Monica in the second round of the CIF Southern Section 1A playoffs.
The Bulldogs played like they weren’t concerned what others were thinking. They gave the visiting Vikings all they could handle, only to fall short in the end, 58-46.
Burbank first-year coach Jerry DeLaurie praised his team, which actually led 30-27 at halftime.
“If you came to this basketball game you’re probably thinking we’re underdogs,” DeLaurie said. “The press is thinking that, our fans maybe doubt it, but we didn’t. We really believed we were going to win this game and we never quit at the end.”
Burbank (16-13) got big play in the first half from Sarkis Karium and Greg Salas.
Salas hit four 3-pointers, three of which came in the first half. Karium was on his way to a team-high 16 points.
“Every time I got the ball I just wanted to shoot,” Salas said. “I guess I had confidence and it went in.”
The Bulldogs went up by as much as 30-21 with 2:08 left in the first half following a Salas three-pointer.
“It was great,” DeLaurie said. “It showed how hard we work as a program, what these kids believe in and what we’re about.”
Santa Monica (22-6) came in as a big favorite as it is led by California-bound guard Jordan Mathews.
Mathews led all scorers with 22 points, scoring 11 points in each half. Mathews had his team’s final four points of the first half.
But things began to change in the third quarter as Burbank did not hit a field goal until the 4:15 mark as a basket by Richard Elmoyan tied things up at 34. Mathews then countered with a three-pointer for the Vikings.
Santa Monica went on to outscore Burbank, 16-6, in the third to take a 43-36 lead into the final period.
“The first three minutes of the second half is always key. We were a little fatigued there and they caught up a little, but we kept coming back,” DeLaurie said. “I’m very happy. The kids played hard.
“If you play Burbank High you better come ready. It doesn’t matter who you are, we are going to come after you. I’m proud of my kids. Our defense was phenomenal. They didn’t make too many shots in the first half.”
Santa Monica got a big lift late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter from 6-foot-6 forward Spencer Cramer. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
Burbank could not get closer than seven points in the fourth. For a team that had no returning varsity experience from a year ago, the Bulldogs earned the respect of many.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. Our coach did a good job of preparing us for it,” Salas said.