Falcons finish game strong

LA CRESCENTA — Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball Coach Jason Perez probably wasn't happy to see his team locked in a tight fourth-quarter finish for the second night in a row, considering the Falcons had opened up a 15-point lead early in the second half Saturday night against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

But Perez was more than pleased with the Falcons' reaction to the Knights' closing in to tie the game with 1 minute and 28 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, as Crescenta Valley's poise under pressure led to a 48-47 win, good for third place in the Falcons Classic.

"Last night, in the same situation, we lost the game," Perez said in reference to a 54-53 loss to West Ranch on Friday. "Tonight, they learned from their last mistake and we put it together and won it.

"They're learning and everybody stepped up, role players and bench players. It was a real nice win."

Sarah Yoon led the Falcons with 12 points and fellow senior Melanie Minas added 11, but with the game on the line it was senior Alin Megerdichian and freshman Ella Stepanian, who each scored six, coming up big.

Crescenta Valley (3-1) would score just eight points in the fourth quarter, and only two over the first four-plus minutes. Notre Dame's 19-4 run that began halfway through the third period brought the game to a deadlock at 42 with 1:28 left, but the Falcons didn't panic on their next possession.

After Yoon rebounded two of her own misses in the paint, the Falcons reset their offense and found Megerdichian wide open for a jump shot to go back up, 44-42, with under a minute to play.

The Knights tied it up again with a pair of free throws, but Stepanian was then fouled on a jumper at the other end and made both free throws with 20 seconds left.

Notre Dame turned the ball over on a traveling violation forced by sound interior defense and Minas, after being intentionally fouled, sank two free throws with 10 seconds left to render the Knights' Jenny McNeill's three-pointer at the buzzer meaningless.

"[They either got] a shot or the foul and that's exactly what we didn't do yesterday," Perez said. "But they were in the same spot and they came back and they did it.

"We're worried about down the road, we're worried about January and this game made us better for January."

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