Falcons' 'D' steals first win

Gabriel Rizk

LA CRESCENTA — The Crescenta Valley High girls’ basketball team certainly wasn’t lacking intensity in its season opener on Tuesday night, an asset that aided the Falcons well against an overmatched and often times overwhelmed Villanova Prep squad.

The Wildcats came out confused and haphazard in their passing and ball control and the Falcons never gave them time to figure it out, storming to a 22-point first quarter lead and coasting to a 66-11 win in pool play of the Falcon Tip-Off Classic at Crescenta Valley.

It was a defensive demolition for the Falcons, who recorded 32 steals out of Villanova Prep’s 41 turnovers, while holding the Wildcats without a field goal until the 2:39 mark of the third quarter. It would be their only basket of the game.

“We came out really rough and all we’ve been practicing is defense,” said Falcons guard Stephanie Ziemann, who scored seven points and recorded six assists and four steals. “That’s our main goal this year ... just come out and play hard.”

The Falcons went to Cassie Pappas early for offense and the junior forward scored nine of her game-high 14 points in the first quarter to help Crescenta Valley take an 18-0 lead.

Villanova Prep (0-2) did not achieve a shot attempt in the opening period while falling prey to the quick hands of the Falcons’ perimeter defenders.

Shayna Svihovec and Jen Aydin, who each finished with a game-high six steals, had four and three, respectively in the first period, which ended with a Melanie Minas three-pointer for a 23-1 lead.

“We watched them [Monday] night and noticed some of them were weak with the ball handling,” Ziemann said of Villanova Prep, which lost to Simi Valley, 60-15, in the opening round of the tournament. “We picked up on some of that.”

Minas finished with 10 points and three assists and Lorrin Cheeney added eight points, nine rebounds and three steals for the Falcons, who led, 46-7, midway through the third quarter.

Melanie Samvalian scored eight points for Crescenta Valley and Aydin and Ani Ebrahimian chipped in seven and six points apiece, respectively.

The Falcons finished with just seven turnovers to 21 assists, while shooting 50% from three-point range.

“We didn’t have our best shooting game, but we pressed and were able to get easy baskets,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez, whose team resumes pool play tonight at 7:45 against Simi Valley. “I liked the way everybody played hard, we had a lot of balanced scoring, which is always really good.

“Now, each game we’ve got to get a little better because each game is gonna get tougher.”

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