SOUTH PASADENA — There were a number of starters missing from the Crescenta Valley High girls’ basketball team Wednesday, but that was by design.
Falcons Coach Jason Perez made the summer-league meeting with Flintridge Prep an optional ‘B-team game and still pulled out a 28-15 victory over a Rebels squad that played its first game under new co-coaches Kevin Kiyomura and Jayme Kiyomura-Chan.
“These games are huge for us,” said Perez of ‘B'-team contests. “They allow kids that are only getting 10 or 12 minutes in regular varsity games to get 20, 25 minutes and they start getting a feel for varsity basketball — that’s the importance of these.”
It wasn’t part of the game plan, but Flintridge Prep was also missing about half its regulars Wednesday at South Pasadena High.
“We’ve got a lot to build on,” Kiyomura said. “The difference for us is we’re having to implement our system during the summer, as opposed to other teams building on what they’ve been doing the whole time. We’re going to take every game as a learning experience and we’re just going to try to get better every game.”
The Rebels will have to do so without their go-to player from this past season, Maya Okamoto, who figures to be out most of the summer with a knee injury.
It was the Falcons’ constant pressure defense that delivered the win, which covered up their offensive struggles, as Prep turned the ball over 25 times compared to CV’s 11.
“Our defense is intended to put as much pressure on the ball as possible and force teams into tough, quick decisions,” Perez said. “We hope they’re going to make bad decisions and tonight that happened. Now we have to learn to take advantage of those mistakes.”
Crescenta Valley did get another balanced performance on offense with seven players scoring in the game. Forwards Emily Beglarian and Lindsey Heckmann posted seven and six points, respectively, for Crescenta Valley, which got a game-high eight points from Jacqueline Wilson.
“During these games I feel I can really contribute more because I am an integral part of the offense,” said Beglarian, who also had three steals and three rebounds. “It’s a chance to come out and practice so in a real game I can contribute more.”
Beglarian paced the Falcons to an 8-0 lead out the gate, as she forced a steal and laid it in six-and-a-half minutes into the first half.
Prep cut the deficit to three, 8-5, with a 5-0 run — highlighted by a jumper from Katherine Bogaard — but the Falcons restored their eight-point advantage, 13-5, with a 5-0 spurt to close the half, as Nairi Rostomian hit two corner jump shots in the final four minutes.
The Rebels came within seven, 22-15, when Kinsey Thompson (nine rebounds) cashed in a layup off a steal and assist from Gracie Cha with 5:10 remaining, but Wilson (three steals) sealed the victory with five points in the final 2:30.
Tala Ismail stood out for Prep, as the incoming freshman recorded a game-high seven steals, four points and four rebounds in her first taste of varsity action.
“We’re excited to see what [Ismail] is going to do for us in the future,” Kiyomura said. “She will be in the implementation process, it’s going to be a matter of how she fits in with the team that was here last year.”