BURBANK HIGH — Leading throughout the first three quarters, the Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball team was cruising along Friday against Burbank.
The Falcons enjoyed their biggest lead of the game in the opening seconds of the fourth, controlling the Pacific League contest by 12 points.
However, the Bulldogs battled their way back, erasing most of the lead and getting to within one with just over 22 seconds left.
But Crescenta Valley was able to come up with some defensive stops in the final moments and was able to hit its free throws down the stretch to earn a 49-46 victory at Burbank.
"I told the girls that we cannot play from behind against this team," Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden said. "But that's exactly what ended up happening. I give our girls credit for being able to come back and at least have a chance to win it at the end."
With just four games left in the season, four teams are bundled up in the third-through-sixth spots in the league standings, battling for two playoff berths. With Burroughs steaming towards a league championship and Muir appearing to have the best shot at second, that leaves the Falcons, Bulldogs, Pasadena and Arcadia looking to distance themselves from the other squads.
Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez said Friday's win was an important one for his Falcons (12-10, 5-5 in league).
"We really don't want to think in terms of where we are in the league standings," he said. "Yeah, we would like to finish third in league and that is something that would be an accomplishment for us. But we're just trying to get better as a team. We have to concentrate on getting better and finishing league on a strong note."
The Falcons spread the scoring around, with freshman Ella Stepanian leading the way on offense with 11 points. Seven players scored for Crescenta Valley.
It was just the opposite for Burbank (12-10, 5-5), which received scoring from just four players. Junior Damarie Gonzalez paced the team with 19 points to go along with five steals. Teammate Sylvia Granados, a junior, added 17 points.
Crescenta Valley started the game with four straight points from Stepanian. The team never relinquished the lead throughout, as the Bulldogs were unable to even the score.
In the early going of the fourth, Sarah Yoon hit a bucket to put the Falcons in front, 41-29. But Burbank kept coming, whittling down the lead slowly but surely.
When Granados converted on a driving lay-up with 22.5 seconds remaining, Burbank was down by just one, 47-46.
The Bulldogs were forced to foul from that point, and Yoon made one attempt with 19.5 seconds remaining to give the visitors a two-point lead, 48-46.
On the next possession, Burbank committed a turnover and again had to foul on the Falcons' next possession. Yoon made another free throw, giving the Bulldogs a final possession with 10.8 left on the clock. However, Crescenta Valley's Catherine Davis stole the ball and time ticked off before Burbank could foul.
"Sarah came up big late in that fourth quarter," Perez said. "I thought our defense played well and I thought we did a good job overall."