By Brandon HENLSEY
How does a team respond to a new year when it loses its All-CIF player who guided them to a 24-6 record and an appearance in the CIF quarterfinals? With mixed results, if the Crescenta Valley Lady Falcons’ basketball team is part of that question.
The Lady Falcons entered the 2010- 11 season inexperienced, and without their best player, Cassie Pappas, who graduated and moved on to the University of Pennsylvania. The Lady Falcons were second in the Pacific League a year ago, but this year finished fourth, with an overall record of 13-14. They lost to Malburough 48-36 in the first round of the playoffs.
“They worked really hard. We were in a ton of close games. We won some of the close games and we lost a ton of those close games,” said head coach Jason Perez.
They averaged 47.2 points per game, and were led by senior center Sarah Yoon, who averaged 11 points per game. That was a noticeable drop off from Pappas, who averaged over 25 points a contest in her senior season.
Perez called this season an adjustment period, “and that’s what it was. We had to readjust. [Without Pappas] you have to change things, change your offense, change a lot of things that you wanted to do.” The Lady Falcons had to rely on multiple players for scoring, making the offense more team oriented. The league low in points was 29, in a loss to Arcadia in January.
“Even with Cassie, it was team offense, it just so happened that she hit all the hits that she took,” Perez said. “It’s a team offense, it always has been. We just have to teach all the girls to understand how to run the offense so that way they take advantage of what their strengths are and the weaknesses are.”
One player who Perez said the team will look to more next season is Ella Stepanian, who will be a sophomore. The 5-foot-11 Stepanian averaged 9.4 points a game and 6.3 rebounds. She scored 16 points in the playoff loss. Perez said Stepanian has the ability to score 20 points a game, but everyone will play their key role.
“The players who are your scorers with the ball score. They will read the defense right,” Perez said, “and your players that are more passers and more screen setters will facilitate the offense.”
The Lady Falcons do have height returning. Stepanian and Samira Seraji are both 5-11, and Lexi Mirzaian is 5-10. Perez said that the Lady Falcons’ height and continued experienced will help them for 2011-12.
“We have four returning varsity players and the four girls that are returning all played a lot,” he said. “We have experience coming back …. We’re real happy, we’re looking forward to the next year … we think we’re going to be pretty good.”