LA CRESCENTA — Shortly before the four-minute overtime session began, the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball team refocused.
With a chance to move up in the Pacific League standings, Crescenta Valley senior guard Melanie Minas said the Falcons needed a strong defensive performance and carried out the task.
Crescenta Valley forced five turnovers in the extra session to earn a key 52-49 league home win against Pasadena on Tuesday night.
The Falcons improved to 13-10, 6-5 in league and caught Pasadena for third place. However, by virtue of sweeping the two-game season series against Pasadena (15-9), the Falcons hold the tie-breaker. Burroughs and Muir are in first and second-place, respectively.
Crescenta Valley and Pasadena were tied at 45 through regulation. Crescenta Valley scored five points off Pasadena's turnovers in the overtime period.
"On Monday, we were practicing our defense a lot more," said Minas, who made a pair of free throws with 1:07 left in the extra session to give the Falcons a 51-47 advantage. "We knew that every possible possession on offense and defense would count [Tuesday].
"We knew it would be a close score. When we got into the overtime, we were tired, but we sucked it up. We had to regroup by playing strong defense in overtime."
The Bulldogs overcame a late five-point deficit in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Pasadena knotted the game at 45 on a three-pointer by Ashley Mayberry with 1:02 left.
Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez, who got a game-high 16 points from junior center Samira Seraji, said losing the lead in the fourth quarter didn't deflate the Falcons.
"We knew that to win we had to make some stops," said Perez, whose team posted a 50-34 win at Pasadena on Jan. 12. "We wanted to get out there and defend them and we got [three] steals in the overtime.
"We are starting to step it up after losing some close games earlier."
Minas finished with 10 points for the Falcons, who got eight points, 10 rebounds and four steals from freshman forward Ella Stepanian and seven points and four steals from senior forward Sarah Yoon.
Pasadena got 11 points apiece from Mayberry and Kristina Tatikian.
Crescenta Valley will next participate in another league home contest at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Muir.