LA CRESCENTA — Sparked and backed by an unconscious first-quarter shooting display from its junior guard, the Burbank High girls’ basketball team notched a huge Pacific League victory against host Crescenta Valley on Wednesday.
Yassemeen Sa’Dullah connected on five of her seven three-pointers in the opening frame and scored 17 of her game-high 32 points to set the tone for the Bulldogs in a 50-47 overtime win over the Falcons.
Sa’Dullah’s opportunities to score were fewer thereafter, as the Falcons defense switched to a man-to-man from a 2-3 zone and bottled her up as best as it could, with Samantha Lamb as the primary defender, but Sa’Dullah took matters into her hands again late and scored seven of the team’s nine overtime points to secure the victory.
“I was definitely in the zone,” Sa’Dullah said. “We’ve been preparing for this game and came out prepared and confident.
“I knew I had to close it out.”
Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez was displeased with his team’s defense to start the game, which gave Sa’Dullah good looks from behind the arc. Burbank’s moving offense allowed the 5-foot-7 guard to hit two from the right wing, one from the opposite wing, one from the left corner and one from the top of the key.
“It’s pretty simple — we run a 2-3 zone and our players cover shooters,” said Perez, whose team dropped to 17-8 overall and 8-3 in league play. “Today, we couldn’t find their best player. We came out with a lack of focus and let one player beat us.”
Burbank’s win is its fourth in a row and has the team tied for second in the Pacific League standings with Crescenta Valley, which has lost its last two, both in overtime.
“What a team effort,” said an ecstatic Bulldogs Coach Bruce Breeden. “Everybody did what was asked of them and we showed up and played. Yazzy was huge in the first half, but it takes five plus the bench.”
After leading, 19-10, at the end of the first quarter, Burbank (16-9, 8-3) was able to maintain the advantage until late in the fourth quarter, when Lamb made two clutch free throws and sealed a frantic 13-0 run to send the game into overtime.
Earlier in the second half, the Bulldogs led by as many as 15 points on Sa’Dullah’s seventh three-pointer, which give Burbank a 37-22 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Burbank scored four points the rest of regulation, however, and the Falcons clawed back without co-captain and leading scorer Ella Stepanian, who left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and returned late in the fourth. Jacqueline Wilson’s three-pointer with 1:30 left in the contest highlighted the run and was soon followed by three free throws from Josie Brock and eventually Lamb’s game-tying trip to the stripe.
As a team, the Falcons made eight of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter. Brock and teammate Alisa Shinn led the team with 15 points apiece.
“We gotta play four quarters,” Perez said. “We played one and that one quarter almost got us a win. We need to figure out how we’re going to play four. We need to step up.”
Stepanian’s baseline drive in the overtime session gave the Falcons their first lead of the game. Crescenta Valley led on three occasions in the four-minute frame, but never by more than two points, as Burbank answered each score, including Sa’Dullah’s basket that gave the Bulldogs a 48-47 lead that would not be relinquished.
Crescenta Valley called a timeout, trailing, 49-47, with 15.7 seconds remaining to set up Stepanian for the game-tying basket or potential game-winning three-pointer, but Sa’Dullah’s defense and defensive rebound prevailed. Stepanian left the game earlier in overtime after taking an unintentional hit to the mouth that caused a busted lip.
It was emblematic of some rough play, as the second half and overtime saw 31 attempted free throws between the squads.
Perez said he might play Stepanian sparingly on Friday, but also said the team will need its best players out there against Pasadena.
“We got a little hectic at the end, fouling when we didn’t need to,” said Breeden, who expects shooting guard Ashley Linda to return in roughly 10 days. “This was a huge win, though. We’re ready for the playoffs. I’m excited.”