PASADENA — With his team getting outplayed, outmatched and outworked among other things, Crescenta Valley High Coach Shawn Zargarian just wanted to see more fight and more heart before the game ended in a few minutes.
Really, it was all that could be asked for at that point.
And while the Falcons answered to their coach's wishes and salvaged their pride with a late surge, it concluded a game in which their opponents — the Muir Mustangs — made life very difficult for Crescenta Valley and came out victorious in the fifth-place game of the La Salle/Temple City Holiday Basketball Classic, 76-60, Thursday night.
"In that five-minute stretch, we gave 100 percent of everything we had," said Zargarian, referring to the Falcons' 18-7 run during the fourth quarter that brought a 20-point deficit down to nine.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late against the Mustangs, who had used their full-court pressure and trap defense to harass the Falcons in the form of 10 turnovers in a second quarter where Muir (7-3) started pulling away.
In the third quarter, when the Falcons figured out a way to beat the press, their shots weren't falling and it allowed the Mustangs to outscore the Falcons, 19-7, which included a 11-0 run to end the stanza, resulting in a comfortable 19-point advantage going into the fourth.
Muir had cleared its bench before the Falcons (8-5) got as close as 67-58. When the starters re-entered, the momentum shifted back to the Mustangs, who ended the game scoring nine of the last 11.
"Our shooting percentage was poor, but there are ways to make up for that, like playing defense and taking care of the ball," Zargarian said. "We didn't do either."
The Falcons made a total of seven field goals in the first half, in large part due to the unforgiving Mustangs defense that turned up the heat after Crescenta Valley scored the first eight points of the game.
"I was very pleased with our pressure, and our defense overall," said Mustangs Coach Gamal Smalley, whose team shares a spot in the Pacific League with the Falcons. "But we play them two more times, so they will be ready for us and they will be difficult."
Zargarian also made it a point that the Falcons will work on correcting their mistakes.
"We were scared and timid with the ball, and we just didn't execute," said Zargarian, who witnessed 23 Falcons turnovers on the night. "We need to work on handling pressure."
Christian Misi scored 10 of his 19 points in the first quarter to lead the Falcons. Davis Dragovich followed up with 15 and Dylan Kilgour added 11.
Mustangs Guard Dion Nelson led all scorers with 27 points.
Nelson scored seven points in the first quarter and guided a 9-2 run to end the frame that gave Muir its first lead of the game — one that would not be relinquished.