BURBANK — For the Crescenta Valley High girls’ basketball team, the most promising thing about its summer-league debut on Tuesday at Burroughs may not have been the 52-14 victory it posted over Golden Valley, but the way in which it achieved the win.
The Falcons showed a renewed aptitude in some aspects of the game that didn’t always come easy to them last season, exhibiting a pass-first outlook to uncover easy shots and out rebounding, 31-25, a Grizzlies team with some size in the paint.
Those were some key factors for Crescenta Valley, along with a game-high 16 points from Shayna Svihovic and 14 from Cassie Pappas.
But Crescenta Valley’s aggressive defensive effort to start the game set the tone for all that followed.
“We’ve been working on our press and getting so far up in people’s faces that they can’t even move,” said the junior-to-be forward Pappas, who led the team with four steals. “I think that’s what really helped us today and I think our chemistry as a team is better, so we know how to work well together.”
Through well-coordinated double and triple teaming on their presses and traps, the Falcons harassed Golden Valley into 17 turnovers.
Eleven of those came in the first half, where Crescenta Valley built its lead as high as 29 points, while allowing just one field goal.
“We made a lot of steals and forced a lot of turnovers and what was good was that we were able to turn those turnovers into points,” Falcons Coach Jason Perez said.
Both teams opened the game with cold shooting from the floor, going scoreless for the first four minutes.
Pappas, the Falcons’ leading scorer as a sophomore, missed her first four attempts from the field. She then dished out four of her game-high five assists over the next five minutes to help Crescenta Valley take a 14-0 lead.
“We’re better at passing than we were the last few years,” said Perez, whose team totaled 16 assists on Tuesday. “We see the open man and we make those extra passes.
“That’s something that I think is gonna make us a lot better this year.”
Over the final 11:00 of the first half and into the early stages of the second, Pappas made seven straight field goals to help Crescenta Valley put the game away.
The Falcons also got six points from guard Melanie Minas, four points and five rebounds from Lorrin Cheeney and a team-high eight rebounds from Svihovic.
Svihovic scored the last five points of the game on an off-balance put back off a free throw and a three-point play.