Crescenta Valley girls' basketball falls in OT, 39-34

LA CRESCENTA — The Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball team appeared on the verge of pulling out another close victory.

On the doorstep of advancing to the semifinals of the Falcon Classic, Crescenta Valley yielded a buzzer-beating game-tying shot in regulation before sputtering in overtime in a 39-34 pool-play game against West Ranch on Thursday night.

“We thought we were in good position to win, but it came down to inexperience,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Jason Perez, whose team will meet Granada Hills in a consolation game at 4:45 p.m. today. “We didn't screen out on the game-tying shot.”

With the Falcons (1-1) nursing a 32-30 lead with 3.3 seconds left in regulation, West Ranch's Whitney Branham took an inbound pass from under the Crescenta Valley basket and scored on a layup as time expired.

The Wildcats seized the momentum, while the Falcons, who opened the tournament Wednesday with a 39-35 pool-play victory against Blair, seemed deflated.

“It was a close game and we had a chance to win,” said Perez, who got 17 rebounds from Cynthia Shahbandeh and nine points from Tanisha Minassian. “We shot 14 for 64 from the floor for 22 % and you are not going to win many games doing that.

“We got a lot of rebounds and hustled for the ball, but we can't seem to find enough ways to score.”

The Wildcats (2-0), who beat Blair in their first pool-play game Tuesday, got four points in overtime from Ashley Thompson. Thompson recorded a steal and converted it into a layup to give West Ranch a 37-32 lead with 1:42 left in the four-minute overtime session. After Shahbandeh cut the deficit to 37-34 with 1:42 left, Thompson scored on another layup on the Wildcats' next possession to extend the advantage to 39-34 with 31.3 seconds remaining.

“West Ranch had a couple of steals in the overtime and they had all the momentum,” said Perez, who received eight points from Shahbandeh and six from Jackie Wilson.

Crescenta Valley jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a basket by Shahbandeh with 4:10 left in the first quarter. The Falcons extended the lead to 17-7 on a steal and layup by Elise Ortega with 4:33 left in the first half.

West Ranch knotted the game at 17 on a pair of free throws by Kimi Yamamoto with 34.1 seconds left in the first half.

A three-pointer by Wilson gave the Falcons a 24-20 advantage with 2:23 left in the third quarter.

Branham paced West Ranch with 18 points, six rebounds and five steals. The Wildcats got six points and 10 rebounds from Melanie Jensen.

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