The Dons Fall to Legacy in Playoff Match-Up at the Barn

Verdugo Hills took on the Legacy Tigers Thursday night in the opening game of the 2022 CIF LA City Section Boys’ Basketball Championship. It was a home game for the #3 seed Dons and was played at the “Barn playing Legacy, who were ranked 14th. Verdugo’s regular season record stood at 15-13, and was filled with challenging matchups. The tournament is single elimination so all the chips were on the table tonight. It was a back-and-forth game, a game of runs, and momentum swings. Ultimately, Legacy pulled away in the fourth quarter and won the game 50-42.

Coach Gibson went with a tight line-up this evening. The rotation really consisted of just 8 players or so. Erik Yepremyan, Georges Abdulnour, and Sonny Lopez didn’t see much action, which may have been a match-up coaching decision, though it’s unclear. There were a lot of possessions for both teams tonight that went deep into the shot-clock, as both defenses dug in all game. Though during their runs, some of Legacy’s guards were able to penetrate and even post up down low, and put in a floater. Nonetheless, Verdugo had moments tonight of toughness and grit.

The first quarter was all Legacy. They came out and went on an 11-2 run. They were hitting most of their shots. Adrian Mirzakani had a put-back lay-up, David Marcos hit a jumper, and Arlen Tomasian saw a couple nice shots go in as the Dons started to make some noise. But by the end of the quarter, the Tigers were leading 20-8.

The second quarter was the complete opposite of the first, as the Dons came storming back. Marcos had 8 in the quarter, with two three-pointers, and Alan Hernandez had 4 points. They began to claw their way back into the game. Everyone was contributing, and the Verdugo fans started to get loud. Verdugo was racking up steals that led to baskets. It was the only quarter Sonny Lopez was in the game, he ended the game with two personal fouls. It’s unclear the reason for his minute restriction. Right before the half, Tomasian tied the game at 28-28, essentially beating the buzzer with a lay-up, giving the Dons a fair bit of momentum to take into the locker room at the half.

However, that momentum was nowhere to be found come the third quarter. It was a quarter full of turnovers and sloppy plays, and six minutes into the quarter each team had managed just 5 points. At around the 2:00 minute mark, the score was 33-33. The end of the third quarter saw the Tigers up 35-33, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. .

The Tigers went ahead 39-33 early in the fourth quarter before Hernandez assisted Mirzakani nicely for a lay-up. Marcos then had a steal, and ended up hitting a three on that same possession. Suddenly, it was 38-39, halfway through the fourth quarter. Then, Legacy Guard Marcus Belton hit two three-pointers that felt like the daggers that sealed the victory for the Tigers. It was 47-40 with :40 seconds to go. Alexander Martinez hit a lay-up, but it was in vain.

It was a solid season for the Dons, ultimately finishing above .500, with a record of 15-14. While many of their players are graduating as Seniors, there are some strong young players who got to see some minutes this season due to the high number of injuries the Dons suffered this year. Alexander Martinez, a sophomore, is a strong player, and aggressive. Key big man Georges Abdulnour is a sophomore, and has two more seasons ahead of him. He has already proven himself as a solid, go-to Don, earning his minutes this year down-low, and on the glass. Garik Yepremyan also supported the back-court sturdily, filling in for David Marcos and Alan Hernandez as a back-up point guard during their injuries. And Andre Javadian, a Junior, who has proven himself this season as a threat from behind the arch, will be returning next season for his senior year.

It’s always amazing how much a player can improve at this age over the course of just one summer. It all depends on work ethic. A lot of the time, the players that manage to earn minutes on a high school basketball team, or work their way into the rotation, are the players that focus on one or two parts of their game that the coach can utilize, making themselves a threat in an area or two. Maybe rebounding. Maybe three-point shooting. A player doesn’t always need to be skilled in every aspect of the game to see minutes. Some players go in specifically for two minutes of intense defense. Others are subbed in for their prowess hunting down offensive rebounds. The Dons have a lot to look forward to, and it is always exciting to see who will fill in the shoes of the graduating starters.

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