LA CRESCENTA â€” For a season-opening contest, it's about what Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball Coach Jason Perez expected.
Perez saw the Falcons play stingy defense and click on most cylinders on offense. Sure, there were some turnovers committed by the Falcons, but Perez wasn't about to complain.
Of greater significance, the Falcons got a balanced scoring attack, keyed by top scorer Cassie Pappas.
Pappas poured in a game-high 24 points and added seven rebounds and five steals Wednesday night to propel Crescenta Valley to a 68-41 home victory against Whittier in a pool-play game of the Falcon Classic.
Pappas, a reigning All-Area, All-CIF and All-Pacific League member, came ready to play against Whittier (1-1). So did her teammates.
â€œI would say that I felt like we came out and played hard,â€ said Perez, whose team will next take part in another pool-play contest against Thousand Oaks at 7:45 p.m. today. â€œWe were a little sloppy.
â€œ[Whittier] played hard, too. We are in the process of playing some tough teams. We want to be able to get our offense and fast break clicking by the time league starts.â€
Crescenta Valley, which finished second in league behind Muir and advanced to the playoffs last season, didn't have many problems battling the Cardinals. Crescenta Valley raced to an 11-2 lead on a layup by senior forward Shayna Svihovec with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
The biggest play of the contest came in the closing seconds of the opening quarter. Crescenta Valley senior guard Dani Vargas intercepted an up-court pass and then made a nifty pass to Pappas, who promptly drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to extend the Falcons' lead to 19-7.
Pappas had 11 first-half points for Crescenta Valley, which owned a commanding 35-15 halftime lead. The Falcons also had 11 of their 15 steals in the first half.
â€œWe didn't force many turnovers in the first half, but we hit our free throws,â€ said Perez, whose team made 16 of 20 free throws. â€œA lot of our stuff will get better.â€
Vargas contributed four assists and four steals for the Falcons, who received eight points from junior guard Melanie Minas and seven points from senior guard Ani Ebrahimian.
Svihovec also contributed seven points and seven rebounds.