Dons Defeat North Hollywood on Senior Night
It was Senior Night at Verdugo Hills on Saturday evening, and, prior to the game, all the senior Dons walked out through a tunnel of cheerleaders with their parents and family members. The final home game of the regular season was a rematch against the North Hollywood Huskies, who Verdugo defeated last week 55-45. The “Barn” was near capacity, and behind the Dons’ bench hung freshly painted posters, one reading: “Rebound, block, Sonny, tell NoHo to take a walk.” Being on a Saturday, the bleachers were filled with dedicated fans, and void of the wandering after-school student. The energy in the Barn was electric. North Hollywood made their living once again by shooting three pointers, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Dons, who ultimately won the game 60-47.
Georges Abdulnour was sidelined tonight, after just returning from a long stint of recovery from a sprain. However, after a couple months, Sophomore Guard Alexander Martinez was back on the court tonight, one the the physically toughest players on the team. The game started with a familiar sight, an assist from Guard Alan Hernandez to David Marcos for a lay-up. The Huskies missed 6 lay-ups in the first quarter, as they looked for their shooting touch, but did make two threes. Hernandez had three assists, an offensive rebound, and a three-pointer in the first quarter. At the quarter break, the Dons led 13-9.
North Hollywood Forward Nikon Spasov scored 8 in the second quarter, with two threes, spearheading a resurgent shooting quarter for the Huskies. He ultimately finished the game with an efficient 25 points. Early on in the quarter, Erik Yepremyan hit a three-pointer to take the Dons lead to 16-11. However, the Huskies would then go on a 13-1 run. Arlen Tomasian was able to score 4 points at the end of the quarter to soften the blow, but Verdugo Hills trailed 21-24 at the half. The rowdy atmosphere benefitted from the refs letting the teams play. North Hollywood Coach Donovan Womack was motioning at the Verdugo fans to get even louder, egging-on the rivalry.
The halftime break acted like a reset button and all of the Dons seemed to be scoring in the third quarter. Tomasian had 7 points and Andre Javadian drilled a three-pointer.. Forward Adrian Mirzakani was attacking especially well in the third, scoring 4 points, and consistently breaking North Hollywood’s zone. Defensively, Coach Jared Gibson was playing the Dons in a 2-3 zone. One of the intangibles that Center Sonny Lopez brings to the game, is that his team seems to play better when he’s on the floor, posing that threat down low. He was ever-present in the third quarter. With five minutes left in the third quarter, the Dons would go on a 14-2 run, culminating with a buzzer beating floater by Tomasian. It was a big third quarter for Verdugo Hills and they led 41-31 at the break.
In the first possession of the fourth quarter, a Husky Guard hit a shot and was fouled. He then missed his free-throw, and his team recovered the rebound, and found him again for a three-pointer, completing the rare 5-point-play, cutting the 10 point lead in half within seconds. Verdugo didn’t let this affect their composure, though. As with the third quarter, everyone was scoring in the fourth. Mirzakani hit a three. Alan Hernandez didn’t score, but shocked the crowd with his offensive rebounds, finishing the game with 5, quite a feat for a guard. These weren’t long rebounds off missed threes, they were down-low offensive boards. The Dons sealed the victory with their hustle in the second half.
In a post-game interview, Coach Gibson detailed his squads struggles staying healthy, lamenting, “I’ve had nine significant injuries this year with only twelve players.” He praised Alan Hernandez’s efforts, as well as pointing out how “we didn’t shoot that well in the first over there [last week at North Hollywood] either.” The Dons did struggle from the floor in the first half tonight but they certainly made up for it in the second half. They scored 21 in the first, and 39 in the second.
On Monday February 7th, the Dons will play at Monroe in a make-up game that was rescheduled due to the district-wide pause on sports during the week of January 10.