By Jessica SHUMATE, Vincent PAGE and Brandon HENSLEY
It’s been almost 20 years, but Crescenta Valley girls’ basketball is back in the CIF finals. The Lady Falcons defeated Chino Hills 42-38 on Feb. 27 inside a frenzied CV gym to advance to the Southern Section Division 1A finals. The program has not made it this far since 1997, when the team led by Michelle Greco lost to Buena at Long Beach State University.
“It’s an honor. We’re the lowest seed in a championship game (10th seed) and we’ve had a lot of doubters but it’s awesome we’ve gotten this far,” said starting center Alisa Shinn.
Crescenta Valley will take on Mira Costa, which beat Burroughs in the semis, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Azusa Pacific University.
The Falcons, who are 23-9 on the season, also received 11 points and nine rebounds from senior center Shinn. Together, she and fellow senior Josie Brock have been the key pieces to a team that made it to the quarterfinals last year, and are doing it this year with young talent, such as sophomore guard Rachel Dayag.
“I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished,” said Brock, who had seven points, four assists and four steals against Chino Hills. “Even last year we thought going to the quarterfinals was a really big accomplishment, which it was. But putting the two seasons side by side, there has been so much improvement. I’m nervous for this game but it’s about the fact that we made it here.”
Junior Polin Megerdichian helped against Chino Hill with 13 points.
On Instagram, Brock was captured on video being emotional after the victory.
“Everyone’s making fun of me for that,” she said. “I’m the one that collapsed. In that moment, looking back now, I realize that I played the whole game. I wasn’t able to sub or sit so it was the physical fatigue. I was thinking, ‘Wow I’m really tired I need to sit down.’ But at the same time it was the emotional connection I have with the game and just the idea of winning.”
Head Coach Jason Perez has had some talented stars during his tenure at CV, players such as Cassie Pappas and Ella Stepanian. But this year’s team may finally be the one to capture a CIF championship.
The Falcons defeated Knight and Camarillo in the first two rounds with defense, holding them to 36 points and 27 points, respectively. Against Huntington Beach in the quarterfinals, they squeaked by 51-50.
In the semis, they held a 38-21 lead by going on a 15-0 to start the third quarter, but Chino Hills made a comeback and drew within 39-38, before CV held the Huskies off.
The Mira Costa Mustangs are 22-8, and finished second in the Bay League standings. They crushed their first two opponents in the playoffs, beating Schurr 62-33 and Beckman 57-27. They got by Diamond Bar 47-33 in the quarterfinals before edging Burroughs, who beat out CV in the Pacific League.
History will be on the line Saturday afternoon at APU.
“Our team has always faced adversity well and the one thing we need to do Saturday is to keep our heads in the game and not get discouraged,” said senior Mya Johnson.
Brock and Shinn said they are excited and ready for the showdown.
“I’m always saying we’re making history, we’re making history,” Brock said.
“No matter what happens, I’m going to look back and say you know what, I’m part of history made in CV.”
“The team just needs to be focused and not worry about anything else but the team and focus on playing our game,” Shinn said.