Falcons can't get past Mustangs

LOS ANGELES — Despite ending the regular season on a three-game losing skid, the Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball team looked to wipe the slate clean entering its opening-round playoff contest Thursday night.

The late tailspin knocked the Falcons out of contention for an automatic playoff berth, leading them to apply for an at-large berth in the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs. Crescenta Valley received a playoff spot, but many of the things that led directly to their late-season swoon carried over into the postseason.

Crescenta Valley saw its season conclude with a 48-36 road loss against Marlborough.

Missed layups and blown defensive coverage led to the Falcons (13-14) being bounced after reaching the quarterfinals last season.

"We missed six layups in the first half and then three more in the second half," Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez said. "You can't miss those and expect to score 36 points in a playoff game and win.

"We made some mental mistakes in terms of not realizing what defense to play. We missed some assignments and you can't do that in the playoffs."

Crescenta Valley received a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds from freshman forward Ella Stepanian, who missed a minute in the third quarter after suffering an apparent left-ankle injury. Stepanian didn't let the injury bother her, as she finished with 10 third-quarter points.

Marlborough, which won six straight CIF championships between 2003-08, improved to 17-8. It got 18 points and seven rebounds from senior point guard Miwa Tachibana and 11 points and three steals from senior point guard Tyler Kim.

Tachibana made a three-pointer as time expired in the first half to give the 15th-seeded Mustangs a 27-19 advantage.

Crescenta Valley senior guard Melanie Minas, the lone starting returner from last season's squad, said the Falcons weren't crisp offensively throughout most of the game.

"We just missed some easy shots and we couldn't make some of our free throws," Minas said. "We gave them open shots and we backed off them defensively and they made those shots."

Crescenta Valley junior center Samira Seraji collected five points and eight rebounds.

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