CV rallies past rival

ARCADIA — The defining moment Thursday for the Crescenta Valley girls' basketball team didn't come on a buzzer-beater, three-point basket or acrobatic play.

It came with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons huddled in a timeout, staring down a double-digit deficit on the road, with their playoff livelihoods on the line.

"We looked at each other and we realized this could be the last time we play together," senior forward Samira Seraji said. "We just told each that we're going to put our hearts there out on the court, and that's what we did."

Allowing only one point the rest of the way, Crescenta Valley mounted a furious comeback and gutted out a thrilling victory over rival Arcadia, 42-41, in the Pacific League finale for both schools.

"Definitely the most exciting win we've had this year," said Seraji, who ignited the rally, scoring six of her 11 points in the fourth quarter and securing possession of the ball in the waning seconds of regulation.

Nonetheless, with Burroughs also winning Thursday, the Falcons (15-11, 7-7) finished in a two-way tie for fourth in league and must petition for an at-large bid into the CIF playoffs. The Indians secured the tiebreaker this year by winning both head-to-head games against Crescenta Valley.

The Falcons also tied for fourth last season, losing out on a four-way tiebreaker.

Following that critical timeout Thursday, Crescenta Valley closed out the game on a 14-1 spurt.

They trailed, 40-28, before Tanisha Minassian sparked the run by drilling a three-pointer. Catherine Davis followed by sinking a pair of free throws. And Seraji hauled down an offensive board and put-back, scoring again on a turnaround hook the next time down.

Ella Stepanian hit a turn-around bank shot, drawing the foul. And then Minassian nailed another shot from behind the arc, lifting the Falcons ahead, 42-41, with 34 seconds left.

"What we did in the fourth quarter is, we finally settled down," Coach Jason Perez said. "They made some big shots, hit some big free throws and there it was."

Arcadia (15-9, 8-6) called for timeout with 19.7 seconds to play.

After trapping the Apaches in the corner, Minassian came away with a steal and Arcadia fouled.

Then, with 4.6 seconds remaining, the Apaches' Melody Chang stole the inbound pass and called for time.

But after inbounding the ball, Chang fumbled it away driving toward the foul line and Seraji secured the ball as time expired.

"I don't think there was a moment when we felt we were out of this game. We always thought we were in it," said Stepanian, who led the way with 15 point and 14 rebounds. "Our hearts were always in it and so were our heads.

"And once we were down by only four [with 4:25 left], I said, 'No, we're pushing.'"

Minassian finished with 11 points, sinking three three-pointers, and five rebounds.

The Falcons split the season-series at a game apiece, after dropping the first meeting at home, 54-42, on Jan. 20.

Arcadia closed out its league schedule losing five of its last six games.

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