Dons Go 2-2 At Faith Baptist Tournament

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Verdugo Hills competed this week in the tournament at Faith Baptist High School. On Monday night, they went up against the Faith Baptist Contenders in the late game slot at 8 PM. It was a tough game; the Dons came out a little flat against the Contenders, and subsequently lost to the tournament hosts 74-49. There was an air of lethargy in the gym late Monday night, with each team playing slightly dejected and flat-footed. However, it was refreshing to see Alan Hernandez back out on the floor after being sidelined for a couple weeks due to an ankle injury. The Faith Baptist Contenders’ 6’7” Sophomore Center Tracy Brysen was one of the larger big-men the Dons have faced this season, and he caused trouble on the boards and down low for Verdugo Hills. It also didn’t hurt the Contenders to be playing on their home floor.

On Tuesday afternoon, Verdugo Hills were matched up against Marshall, who they’ve seen this season before (previously losing in the season opener 68-50), and ultimately lost to the Barristers in the second game of the tournament 56-38.

Due to a team dropping out on Wednesday because of a COVID issue, the Dons ended up playing a double-header the following morning, on Thursday. The Dons took on the Canoga Park Hunters first at 9:30 am. Verdugo Hills looked solid from the jump, and they had a clear height advantage. The Hunters seemed to be a team of guards, and the Dons picked them apart down low early on, as well as from beyond the 3-point line. Everyone seemed to be playing well, but it was strange to watch and wonder about energy conservation for the following game at 11 am. At halftime, the Reseda Regents, who the Dons were due to play next, walked into the gym at halftime and looked on from the bleachers as Verdugo Hills poured on the points.

David Marcos scored 23 points, including three three-pointers in the first quarter. Arlen Tomasian ended up with 12 points. Sonny Lopez scored 10 points, and Adrian Mirzakani had 10 points as well. It’s always a good sign to have four players in double-digits. The Dons defeated Canoga Park handily 84-38. Canoga Park Guard #1 Said scored the majority of their points. In the following game against Reseda, the Regents’ leading scorer was also jersey #1 and had a very similar game to Canoga Park’s Guard Said. In that regard, the games had a certain seamlessness. Furthermore, the Dons were able to carry the same intensity and rhythm they’d found against Canoga Park into the start of the next game against Reseda.

The Dons came out hot, going on an immediate 8-0 run. By the end of the first quarter, though, Reseda was only down by two points, 15-17, but it felt like the Dons could have been much farther in the lead. Adrian Mirzakani scored 10 points in the first half. Dons Center Sonny Lopez drained a corner three-pointer, something he doesn’t do often, to close out the half and put the Dons up 34-31. As the three-pointer fell, the Regents Coach threw his clipboard on the floor out of frustration. He maintained these theatrics throughout the contest.

The third quarter was close all the way, with the Regents and the Dons trading buckets, as well as turnovers. The Dons appear to have a tendency to attempt one-handed passes. It seems their turnover woes often stem from these “fling” or “sling” one-handed passes. Marcos scored five in the quarter, and Georges Abdulnour did a good job of getting to the line. The third quarter ended with the Dons down 46-49.

The fourth quarter started with Sonny Lopez spraining his ankle; he did not return to the game. After a timeout, Marcos caught fire, scoring ten in the quarter, and sealing the victory. Halfway through the quarter, Erik Yepremyan drained a big three-pointer from downtown to put the Dons up 57-53.Marcos then hit the next two shots–two three-pointers–and just like that, the Dons held a 10-point lead, 53-63, with two minutes left. The final score was 65-55 in favor of Verdugo Hills.

All in all, Verdugo Hills went 2-2 in the tournament, and should be proud of their back-to-back victories Thursday afternoon. The Dons now stand at 7-7 on the season, and have a lot to look forward to in January. They take on Valencia next on Monday January 3rd, 2022.

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