BURBANK — Just two days removed from enduring its first loss in Pacific League play this season, the Crescenta Valley High girls’ basketball team prevailed with potent play down the stretch in a tightly contested matchup with host Burbank on Wednesday.
After trailing at halftime, the Falcons took the lead two minutes into the third quarter on a pair of jumpers from Ella Stepanian and never looked back, as they rebounded from the loss on Monday to beat the Bulldogs, 56-51.
Stepanian scored all 10 of her points in the second half, while also playing the role of distributor. Alisa Shinn led all scorers with 24 points, and was the recipient of a few of those passes, much to her and Falcons Coach Jason Perez’ delight.
“Our plan was to go to the post and create double teams, but our thing is that we draw up plans and also have an alternative plan,” Shinn said. “I think we did well, but as Falcons, we can always fly higher. We pulled together, did amazing and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Shinn scored eight of the team’s nine points in the first quarter. Neither team was able to create a comfortable cushion in the first half, but the Bulldogs (10-8, 2-2) carried momentum into halftime, as they finished the second quarter on a 9-4 run to take a 20-19 lead after 16 minutes of play.
“At the end of the half, I thought they were out hustling and outplaying us,” said Perez, whose team improved to 12-6 overall and 3-1 in league. “I was a little upset and I got on them about that. In the second half, we didn’t have any more defensive breakdowns and on offense, the ball went where it needed to go.
Stepanian came out in the third quarter aggressive on both ends, especially in the early stages of the third quarter, as she first found Josie Brock for a basket. Stepanian’s jump shot with 6:06 to play bestowed her first points of the game and preceded a steal on the other end that resulted in her second field goal — this one giving Crescenta Valley a 25-24 lead that would not be relinquished.
On the ensuing possession, Stepanian rebounded Burbank’s missed shot and found Shinn on the other side of the court for a layup
Burbank, meanwhile, struggled in the third quarter, connecting on five of 16 attempts, and trailed by as many as 10 points in the fourth before a three-point play from Yassemeen Sa’Dullah highlighted the Bulldogs reeling off six straight points and prompting a Crescenta Valley timeout.
The Falcons responded with two clutch three-pointers from Tanisha Minassian — the latter of which came with less than three minutes remaining and put the Falcons back up by 10 at 50-40. Ultimately, the Bulldogs couldn’t overcome the lead, despite hitting four three-pointers in the frame.
“We gotta be able to run offense and I’m not sure we got into ours today,” said Bulldogs Coach Bruce Breeden, who received a team-high 15 points from Sa’Dullah, 14 from Ratiana Karapet and 12 from Sharis Ghazeri. “Against a good team, we can’t afford to do that. Towards the end of the first half, we were taking good shots but then we became out of control, were one dribble or one pass away, and went away from our offense.”
Breeden also said he was pleased with the 51 points and that the team is just trying to stay close in the picture before senior guard Ashley Linda returns from a broken foot.
After giving up a late lead against Burroughs in a loss on Monday, Perez complimented his team late in this one.
“I’m happy with our second half,” Perez said. “Our intensity was up in the third and we executed in the fourth. We didn’t play well in the fourth against Burroughs, but tonight we played well in the fourth, we’re doing the little things, other players are stepping up and we’re playing as a team.”
The Falcons will next travel to Pasadena to take on the Bulldogs, who have yet to win a game in league play. Burbank will stay home for the next three league contests, including Friday’s tilt with Hoover.