For all the difficulty the Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball team had during the first half of its CIF Southern Section Division IA first-round playoff game Saturday night, it remarkably still had a chance to win in the closing seconds.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, their double-digit comeback bid fell short as they suffered a 44-40 road defeat against ninth-seeded Katella.
With Katella clinging to a 42-40 lead, Crescenta Valley's Catherine Davis launched a three-pointer that bounced off the back of the rim. Katella (20-8) grabbed the rebound and the Falcons (15-12) were forced to foul. Katella, which won the Orange League championship, then made two free throws to advance to the second round against eighth-seeded Downey or Trabuco Hills on Wednesday.
"It was a good shot by Catherine, but it was just a bit long," said Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez, whose team finished tied for fourth in the Pacific League and received an at-large berth. "We had to foul and try to get another shot."
Perez said the Falcons, who never led, started slow and couldn't match Katella's intensity throughout the first half. Katella held a 27-13 halftime advantage.
"We played terrible in the first half," Perez said. "We were real flat and they just out hustled us and got a lot of offensive rebounds.
"We were going through the motions. Then, we made the adjustments at halftime and we held them to only 17 points in the second half."
Crescenta Valley received a team-high 15 points from sophomore forward Ella Stepanian and 12 from senior forward Samira Seraji. Davis, a senior point guard, added five for the Falcons, who won three of their final four regular season contests.
Perez said the Falcons had mixed results throughout the season.
"We had a lot of ups and downs, some close wins and some close losses," Perez said. "We could have easily been 20-7, but we came up just short in some games."