SOUTH PASADENA — The Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball program isn't really paying much attention to the final score yet, but more importantly to them, how their players are progressing.
The Falcons' varsity squad has been split into two teams for the summer league and has teamed with junior varsity players to gain more playing time and prepare for the winter season, while at the same time, giving the junior varsity team a rare opportunity to play against tougher and older competition.
Against San Marino Wednesday afternoon, Crescenta Valley's Team 'B', which consisted of just four varsity players, lost handily, 46-29, at South Pasadena High, but Owen Keenan, coaching the team in place of Coach Jason Perez, said it has been the norm thus far, but he also sees improvement.
"We knew that we were going to get spanked in this league, but we wanted to play in it anyway, because it's good experience," said Keenan, who coaches junior varsity during the regular season. "Our goal is for our younger players to learn the speed of the game and play this way against same-level competition."
With Perez leading Team 'A,' Keenan played his four seniors — Sarah DerMesropian, Tanisha Minassian, Esther Kang and Lindsey Heckmann — spot minutes, but mainly in the first half as they left for a second game immediately at the conclusion of the game with the Tigers.
It was sloppy play from the Falcons in the first half, who put up just 16 shots due to problems taking care of the ball and beating San Marino's early full-court press. The Falcons committed 12 first-half turnovers and made just four field goals.
San Marino took advantage of the turnovers, jumping out to a 15-2 lead and a 23-8 advantage at the half while shooting nine of 25 — seven coming from inside the paint.
"We had trouble making passes, dribbling and overall trouble with the speed of the other team," Keenan said. "We played better at the end of the half when we did move the ball, but just couldn't make shots."
Both teams struggled to score in the second half until the Falcons finally found some rhythm and scored six straight points midway through the 20-minute half to cut the San Marino lead to 34-20, but could not sustain the momentum, giving up the six points right back on three straight possessions.
Heckmann led the team in the scoring department with seven points with Minassian following up with six.
All the Team 'B' players played a second game shortly after leaving South Pasadena.
The Falcons' varsity squad lost six seniors from last season's campaign, including leading scorer Sarah Yoon and co-captain Alin Megerdichian, who helped the Falcons reach the playoffs, before ultimately falling in the first round to Marlborough, 48-36.
Keenan, for one, sees good things coming from the split-team summer league approach.
"Our younger players are getting better, they are learning the speed of the game at this level, and are constantly improving," Keenan said. "It's good experience for all."