NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Though the Crescenta Valley High and Hoover girls' basketball teams each entered Monday's game winless over their initial two Pacific League contests, it was clear early on that the local squads are still far apart.
Behind a pestering full-court press and trap, along with a big night from Sarah Yoon, the Falcons took a big lead early and never looked back en route to their first league victory of the season, a 61-24 defeat of the host Tornadoes.
"I was really happy with the first half," said Falcons Coach Jason Perez, whose team improved to 8-7 overall and 1-2 in league, "because I think [the Falcons] came out really aggressive and they executed our game plan."
The Falcons scored the game's first six points in the first 1:13, with Yoon scoring twice on layups on her way to a game-high 24 points, as Crescenta Valley was on its way to an imposing 18-4 lead after the first quarter that ballooned to 33-6 at one point in the second and 42-10 at the half.
"I was kind of in a slump recently, I guess this was a bounce-back game for me," said Yoon, a senior forward who also had six rebounds. "I think our team just played good overall, which I think allowed me to play good.
"This was really important for us. I think just losing [those first two league games] made us rethink, 'How good are we?'"
The Falcons opened with a 49-36 loss to Burroughs before dropping a heartbreaking 34-32 loss to Burbank on Friday.
Hoover (1-9, 0-3), on the other hand, found a similar fate in its third consecutive lopsided loss.
"Three league games, three mercy rules," said first-year Hoover Coach Stan Watson of his team falling behind by 40 points and drawing a running clock. "That's just because we're not competitive."
The Tornadoes, who have lost six games in a row, have now dropped their first three league contests by an average margin of 47 points.
"We've been saying, really the entire season, it's not about other teams, it's really about us," said Watson of his team's philosophy of concentrating on its progress. "That's been our thing all year, focusing on ourselves, playing under control and doing the things we're taught."
But, from the onset, that failed to happen, as Crescenta Valley caused turnover after turnover on defense and shot 18 for 37 (49%) from the field to build an insurmountable lead.
Hoover's biggest highlight came from junior point guard Kariz Alberto, who scored a team-high 12 points, including all four of the Tornadoes' first-quarter points and six in the final period.
Crescenta Valley also got double-digit contributions from freshman forward Ella Stepanian (14 points) and junior point guard Catherine Davis (12 points).
Going forward, Watson remains patient and optimistic.
"We're trying to change a culture here, we just want to be more competitive," Watson said. "I'm gonna keep encouraging them.
"We'll keep climbing that mountain."
As for Perez, while he admits it's difficult for a team to keep its intensity up throughout a blowout, he said the second-half effort was lacking and example enough that there's still plenty of room to improve for his Falcons.
"We're not doing all the little things, which is our weakness," he said. "There's a lot of issues where we still need to learn basketball."