Slow start hampers Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball against Chaminade

BURBANK — It was a slow start that ultimately proved instrumental in the final result.

The Crescenta Valley High girls’ basketball team was held scoreless for the first 5 minutes 31 seconds of its West Coast Holiday Festival second-round meeting with Chaminade, while giving up the game’s first 13 points and trailed by double digits for most of the 63-49 loss to the Eagles on Friday evening at Burroughs High.

After falling behind, 13-0, the Falcons settled down and played effectively, but Chaminade never let up and will advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament on Saturday.

“We came out hesitant,” said Falcons Coach Jason Perez, who saw his team’s four-game winning streak snapped. “We had a game plan and a style of offense which we didn’t play. Then we started pressing and playing a zone, but we missed some open shots.

“In the second quarter and on, we played them dead even. It was just the slow start that got to us.”

Chaminade (10-1), ranked No. 7 in California and 19th in the nation by MaxPreps, executed a full-court press from start to finish. Overall, the Eagles forced 17 turnovers.

“I want them to be more physical and aggressive,” Eagles Coach Kelli Di Muro said. “We started with a tempo press and then went to more aggressive. They [Crescenta Valley] got tired. [Ella Stepanian] was out pretty much the entire game.”

Stepanian was held to 10 points, but was able to play the role of distributor quite well, as she found teammates with long passes she used to beat the Chaminade press. The offense struggled as a whole, however, shooting 26% (14 for 53).

Crescenta Valley (8-3) started the game 0 for nine shooting before Alisa Shinn pulled down an offensive rebound and put the Falcons on the scoreboard with 2:29 to play in the opening quarter. With less than a minute remaining, Stepanian connected on a three-pointer for her first points of the contest and brought the Falcons to within 11 at 18-7.

Stepanian’s second field goal from behind the arc followed an assist to Shinn on the previous play. Stepanian fell hard prior to hitting the jumper from the top of the key that cut the Eagles lead down to 23-12. She returned with two minutes left in the quarter. After the game, Perez confirmed she is OK.

The Falcons cut the lead down to 10 on two occasions early in the third quarter, but a 7-0 Eagles run highlighted Chaminade scoring 10 of the final 15 points of the frame to create separation.

Kaylie Fandino fueled the 7-0 run with one of her four three-pointers. She led all scorers with 20 points.

“The last four games, she has really stepped up offensively, which we want her to do,” said Di Muro, who also received 13 points from Devin Stanback and 11 from Valerie Higgins.

Chaminade led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter. The Falcons played to the final whistle, though, and ended the game on a 9-0 run. Josie Brock scored seven of her team-high 13 points in the frame. She and Shinn, both sophomores, combined to score 25 points, and were two of three Falcons to score in double figures, along with Stepanian.

“Brock and Shinn stepped up and played great,” Perez said. “They were phenomenal.”

The Falcons will play in the consolation bracket of the tournament on Saturday.

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