By Mark FABRICK
The Crescenta Valley Lady Falcons basketball team grinded out a 31-22 victory in a sloppy game against Glendale High on Tuesday night. The Falcons were ice cold in the first half, but they came out with purpose in the second half led by senior guard Ella Stepanian.
Neither team seemed to come out with any purpose early. The Falcons and Nitros had combined for only six points more than halfway through the first quarter. CV began utilizing an aggressive full-court press defense, similar to what the boys’ team uses, which pressured Glendale into several turnovers.
The defensive effort yielded few results. Seemingly every time the Falcons drove up the court, they turned the ball right back over, or missed a shot. The Nitros did a good job of packing the paint on the defensive end, forcing the Falcons into mostly jump shots.
The Falcons finally made their run trailing 10-7 midway through the second quarter. Again they did it with their defense. Senior guard Jacqueline Wilson forced Glendale turnovers on back-to-back possessions and with the Nitros unable to find any answers on offense, the Falcons went on a 4-1 run to end the half and even the game up 11-11.
In the second half, Stepanian took over handling the ball and the offense finally started clicking for Crescenta Valley. The Falcons scored the first seven points of the third quarter and went up 18-11 for their biggest lead of the game to that point. The Nitros hit a 3-pointer in the quarter, but the Falcons managed to nearly match their entire first-half output in the third.
The Nitros hung with the Falcons in the fourth, but CV had already built up its lead, and the Falcons were starting to get to the foul line more consistently. Despite a 29-18 lead with only two minutes to go in the game, the Falcons pressure defense never wilted.
Falcons Coach Jason Perez praised his teams’ defensive effort after the game and stressed the importance of poise in a physical game.
“Defense was really good. And the composure in a game where they’re getting fouled 827 times basically. We got fouled a lot. The referees were calling a lot of fouls; they didn’t call everything. The girls showed composure, they didn’t panic, though the game was tight. I know they came in expecting to win, but you’ve just got to play the game. They finished the game strong, they did well, we got a win, and now we can move on. We got the first one out of the way.”
The Falcons return home for a match-up with Muir on Friday night. Coach Perez had a simple response when asked what the team needs to do going forward.
“We just have to score more points than that,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s not going to get it done.”