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Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy follows new leader

Local teams set to tip off respective seasons with reasons for hope, obstacles to overcome.

November 20, 2012|By Charles Rich
  • Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's Melene Agakanian (21) fights for the rebound.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's Melene Agakanian… (Libby Cline, Glendale…)

Often times, there's an elongated time frame with players adjusting to a new coach. That doesn't figure to be the case for the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy basketball team this season.

When Gino Pacella resigned his coaching post after guiding the Tologs to their fourth straight playoff appearance last season, the Tologs wasted little time in promoting assistant Ty Buxman to the lead role. Buxman served as Pacella's assistant the past four seasons and played a role in cultivating talent at the junior varsity level so it would be ready to compete on the varsity stage.

Buxman said he's eager to see how things work out for the Tologs.

"The transition has been a good one since we got going last summer," Buxman said. "We've all been getting used to each other, and they are starting to respond.

"We will be young, but, at the same time, that can be a good thing. We are trying to see who can step up and be a full-time varsity player. It's intriguing and exciting."

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With the loss of center Lana Haddad, an All-Area second-team pick, to graduation, there's plenty of opportunities for the current cast to grab the baton in attempting to lead the Tologs to another playoff spot while also participating in the ultra-competitive Mission League that's expected to again boast a potent gauntlet of strong squads.

The most logical choice might be senior guard Dana Budzyn, the lone returning starter and a reigning All-Mission League second-team honoree who averaged 6.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season.

"She's going to be a four-year varsity starter," Buxman said. "She's been a real solid and consistent player since she's been here, so we are going to need for her to step up and be a scorer."

Crescenta Valley would be happy just to field a healthy team. That doesn't figure to be in the cards, as the Falcons will in all likelihood be without starting junior guard Ella Stepanian for the season.

Stepanian, a reigning All-Pacific League pick, tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus early in the summer. Stepanian hurt her knee and suffered an elbow injury June 30 while competing in an Ararat Homenetmen game. She averaged 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game for the Falcons last season.

After learning about Stepanian's injury, Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez began making a new set of plans in remodeling the team.

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