In a pristine gymnasium off Vanowen Avenue in Canoga Park, there’s a gaggle of Armenian highschool basketball gamers training at 6:30 p.m. every night time. Their story is so distinctive that their quest to win a championship this season may be worthy of a documentary.
Avand Dorian, Matthew Sahnazoglu and twins Ryan and Michael Martirossian have been attending Armenian Basic Benevolent Union since they had been 3.
“It’s like a family and so welcoming,” Dorian stated. “It feels like you get to play basketball with your brothers every day. You’re comfortable to give and take criticism to anybody.”
Add 6-foot-6 Arpiar Harmandian, who arrived as a freshman, and you’ve got 5 seniors who can virtually learn one another’s minds. Final yr they had been 21-0 in the course of the common cause. This season, AGBU’s aim is to win a Southern Part Division 2A championship.
“The toughest opponent is ourselves in practice,” stated Dorian, who’s 6-4 and the group’s main scorer.
The gamers know one another’s tendencies, likes and dislikes so effectively that coach Nareg Kopooshian has to plot new performs on the final minute to confuse the protection.
“They’ve known the system since they were little kids,” he stated. “They know what I expect. Even on days they don’t have to be here, they ask when they can come. They live in the gym with me.”
Their group chemistry is all the pieces a coach goals about.
“So many people come up, ‘How do you have such good chemistry?’ ” Dorian stated. “We don’t notice it, but to other teams, we’re flowing.”
Dorian is essentially the most intriguing character. He has a 4.7 grade common and by no means stops smiling.
“Even at the free-throw line, he gives us one of his smiles, and we know all is good,” Kopooshian stated.
At a loud restaurant lately, Dorian simply fell asleep. “He sleeps anywhere,” Sahnazoglu stated. “If he’s tired, he’s gone.”
Dorian’s persona is so pleasant, humbling and welcoming that he’d slot in on any group. He’s the participant AGBU goes to when the sport is on the road, whether or not needing an inside shot or three-pointer. He’d like to stroll on at USC or UCLA, and there’s little question Andy Enfield or Mick Cronin will fall in love on sight. He loves taking costs.
Most of all, Dorian has liked basketball since his days strolling across the campus as a 3-year-old.
“It’s the best environment we could have,” he stated. “When we were 3, 4 and 5, we’d come to watch the basketball games. We were so impressed. Those were our role models. We wanted to be like them. We’ve all grown up and it’s us now. We want to make the kids below us proud.”
In an period the place excessive faculties are forming all-star groups, AGBU is essentially composed of Armenian youngsters who’ve performed collectively for years. They stay largely within the San Fernando Valley, in Tarzana, Northridge and so far as Studio Metropolis. Their coach will converse Armenian within the huddle or on the court docket if they should hold secret a selected play.
Armenians within the San Fernando Valley will possible come out en power for his or her recreation of the yr on Dec. 9 when Encino Holy Martyrs hosts AGBU. They haven’t performed in years. At a time when wars and politics have been affecting the Armenian neighborhood, it is going to be a recreation to unite.
“It’s such a privilege and honor to represent our community,” Dorian stated.
At any time when this coming season ends, the buddies since preschool will head comply with completely different paths in life. That’s why the 2022-23 season might be so enduring and memorable.
“This is something I’ll tell my grandkids about,” Dorian stated. “We love basketball so much, but what makes it special is the people we’re playing with. I get to win with my brothers, I get to lose with my brothers.”
The highschool with some 200 college students was in Division 5 three years in the past. Final season it misplaced by 5 factors to Lengthy Seashore Millikan within the 3A playoffs and now strikes as much as 2A after going 46-13 the final three seasons.
“We weren’t expecting to be in this division,” Dorian stated. “We were surprised. But we welcome the challenge. We can’t wait for the season to begin.”
These finest mates will not be afraid to let their chemistry be the magic that results in success this season and past.