BURROUGHS HIGH — Since joining the Pacific League five years ago, the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team has had its share of close battles with Crescenta Valley.
During the four-year span, the teams took turns besting one another, as the Indians finished ahead of the Falcons twice and Crescenta Valley finished ahead of Burroughs twice. In addition, the squads never placed lower than fourth place in league.
This season things have changed, however, as the Falcons field a young, inexperienced team and the Indians field one of the most successful teams in years.
That trend was evident Monday, as Burroughs earned a 58-44 home league victory, giving the Indians a season sweep of the Falcons.
The Indians — ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division II-AA — defeated Crescenta Valley, 49-36, in their first meeting Jan. 4.
The win was important for Burroughs (17-4, 7-1 in league) because it keeps it in first place in league with six games remaining. The Indians haven’t captured a league championship since 1978.
Burroughs took control of the game early, forcing the Falcons (10-10, 3-5) to play catch-up.
“I think that was our biggest problem tonight; we fell behind too early in the game and we had too far go to battle back,” Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez said. “I was happy with the way that we played at times, and I think we did some good things in the game. [Burroughs] just had too much of a lead ???early.”
The Indians, who have won 10 of their last 11, came out and played a swarming zone defense, forcing the Falcons into taking their share of shots from the outside. Crescenta Valley connected on many of those shots, as it made seven three-pointers.
The Falcons were paced by senior Sarah Yoon, who scored 17 points, including three three-pointers.
Crescenta Valley, however, had no answer for the inside presence of Burroughs center Aysia Shellmire. The sophomore poured in a game-high 20 points and helped control the middle on defense.
“We played a lot of games during the summer, and I think that did a lot for Aysia,” said Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan. “That helped her confidence. She was a little up and down early in the season, but she has really stepped up the last two games.”
Senior guard Lisha Elsenbach, who is averaging more than 18 points a game to lead the league, returned to form after scoring a season-low five points Friday in a win against Burbank. Elsenbach surpassed her Friday tally in the first five minutes against the Falcons and finished with 17 points.
Burroughs came out shooting well in the first quarter, making eight of 12 shots from the field to roll to a 20-13 lead.
The Indians defense ??? really made a difference in the second quarter. Burroughs outscored the Falcons, 14-4, and took a 34-17 advantage into halftime. Crescenta Valley didn’t help itself on offense in the second, as it converted just one of seven field-goal attempts.
With momentum on its side, Burroughs seemed to lose some of its focus in the third quarter.
“It’s hard to get high school girls’ basketball players to play hard for the whole 32 minutes,” Oganyan said. “Plus I think the fact that we beat them the last time kind of led to us to not playing as hard as we should have.”
The Falcons outscored the Indians in the third quarter, 16-9, and trailed, 43-33, heading into the fourth quarter.
Crescenta Valley cut the lead to eight at 46-38 with 6:29 remaining when Yoon stole the ball and scored on a lay-up.
“I was really happy that we didn’t give up and we were able to fight our way back a little,” Perez said. “The fact that we won the third quarter was an accomplishment for us.”
Burroughs responded to the surge and built its lead back up to 20 at 58-38 with 1:36 left.
The Indians have a showdown with Muir at 5 p.m. today at Burroughs. The Mustangs (6-2 in league) are in second place in league, just a game behind the Indians. Burroughs lost to the Mustangs — No. 8 in Division III-AA — 44-35 Jan. 7.