BURBANK — To evaluate his team leading up to a trip to San Diego for a tournament, Crescenta Valley High girls’ basketball coach Jason Perez has divided his team into two squads for the next few days.
With a blue squad that features returners and a white squad composed of freshmen and junior varsity players, Perez let his experiment run wild against club team No Limit Blue on Tuesday.
The test worked out pretty well, Perez thought, as the blue squad used a strong first-half start and gave the white squad a chance to fend off No Limit Blue to give Crescenta Valley a 47-39 victory in a Burroughs Summer League game.
“Today was the first trial run and the first half went to the blue squad,” Perez said. “They played a little sloppy on defense and missed some easy shots and opportunities. We’re still scoring a good amount of points.
“We haven’t practiced or played in a couple of days, so I was kind of happy. We saw some zone and handled it, and then went man-coverage and got layups.”
The Crescenta Valley blue squad, which featured key returners in seniors Denise Dayag and Lilly Geck, held a six-point lead midway through the first half before turnovers and fouls let No Limit Blue back into the game, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 20-17 at the 5:22 mark.
However, the Falcons regrouped and closed the half with a 26-19 lead.
“We had a nice little seven-point lead, so we let the younger girls in,” Perez said. “They ended up winning the second half by one-point. Some of those girls are going to play junior varsity and a few are going to be on varsity, but that’s a young squad. They were able to outplay a varsity squad and win the second half by one, so that’s like two wins.”
The Falcons received seven points from Dayag in the first half. Freshmen Malia Donoghue and Melissa Dayag, Denise’s younger sister, added seven points each in the second half. Donoghue also had four assists in the final half.
“Once we realized that all of us were tired since coach didn’t really call a timeout in the first half, we just tuned in and worked together as a team and that helped us,” said Denise Dayag of the final moments of the first half. “We were all the returners — we split the teams for the summer — and I think both teams did pretty well considering that we didn’t practice that much so far this summer.
“We’ve mainly focused on playing games, so we haven’t really fixed all aspects of our game, but overall, I think we did a pretty good job.”
No Limit Blue, a club basketball team based in the San Fernando Valley and comprised of players from schools like Chaminade, Granada Hills and Alemany, made a short run in the final minutes of the opening half to disrupt the Crescenta Valley momentum. But it couldn’t hold off the younger Falcons group in the waning moments.
“Effort,” said No Limit Blue coach Danny Dunn of his team’s run at the end of the first half. “That’s how it was. The girls got a little momentum going and we got a couple of rebounds, but, unfortunately, we came up short.
“Collectively, as a team, we missed a lot of opportunities. Overall, we need to continue to work on communication. It was good for us because it brought out our weakness, which is communication. It was quiet out there. I thought we were in a library.”
Emmy Xua and Jocelyn Salas led No Limit Blue with 12 points each. Rebecca Bernardo added eight points and seven rebounds.
With new faces in for the second half, the teams traded off scoring baskets before No Limit Blue cut the Crescenta Valley lead to 36-34 with 7:42 left.
“What I liked about the second group was that they really didn’t give up anything uncontested,” Perez said. “They defended everybody fairly well, and it’s a pretty good team. They got to the basket pretty well, but they rebounded well. Then, offensively, they maintained it against a varsity team.”
Melissa Dayag responded and scored five unanswered points to extend the Falcons’ lead to 41-34 with 4:11 remaining.
The freshman added a pair of free throws to finish off her second-half scoring run that gave Crescenta Valley a 43-36 lead with 2:18 to go.
“I just played my game,” Dayag said. “I saw whatever teammate was open and passed it to them. The team in the second half, some of them are on the junior varsity team, so we haven’t practiced much with the blue team. We just worked together to do our best. You have to win, you know.”