By Alan der OHANNESSIAN
The Lady Falcons got an early-season test last week from those who used to wear their jerseys. The annual alumni contest was close, but the current Falcon squad emerged victorious in the annual alumni game on Nov. 22.
The Falcons were the underdogs going in as the alumni were favored to win. Their star-studded team that included recent graduate Sarah Yoon who ended her season as a Falcon with an average 11 points per game and Sinnamon Garrett who is now attending New Mexico State.
In the first quarter, the Falcons played tough defense, forcing two shot clock violations for the Alumni, setting a tone that effort matters as much as talent.
Head Coach Jason Perez was pleased with the overall defensive effort of the team, especially that of center Samira Seraji. It was Seraji who came to her teammate’s defense, blocking a shot by Yoon from the weak side of the court.
On the offensive end, the Falcons were confident and quick.
Petite point guard Catherine Davis drove past two defenders for a layup. She also stole the ball and hit a tough 3-pointer despite a defender that was in her face.
“We could run, make points, we got easy layups,” said Perez. Going into the second quarter, after getting a defensive rebound, Davis ignited a fast break pass to Ella Stepanian for an easy layup giving the Falcons the lead 11-6.
Not to say the Falcons didn’t work for the points. The quarter saw a combination of success and failures in their attempts. On the positive side, Stepanian, the second leading scorer from last season, stepped into the spotlight. She hit short jump shots and made 3-point plays to keep the Falcons in the lead. She finished the game with 21 points.
“Twenty-one points, can’t beat that,” Coach Perez said of her performance.
However, the Falcons weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities to extend their lead. They missed fast-break opportunities due to bad passes and were taking wild shots, as when Lexi Mirzaian attempted a 3-pointer that hit the backboard. “What are you doing?” demanded Perez from the sidelines. Despite the difficulties, the Falcons maintained a 23-15 lead going into halftime and were able to hold off a late surge by the Alumi’s Garrett and Kelly Page.
Stepanian will be counted on this season to bear much of the scoring load for a team that finished 13-14 and in fourth place in the Pacific League. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to Malborough.
Last year as a freshman, Stepanian averaged over nine points and six rebounds a game. This year, she will have to step up even further if the Falcons want to finish high in the Pacific League. Her coach has faith in her: Last summer, Perez said Stepanian could average 20 points a game if she wanted to.
The Falcons are young. They have nine underclassman on their roster, and without Yoon, who led the team in scoring last year as a senior, experience may be the key ingredient they lack.
The Falcons are currently playing the Tip-Off Classic at CV High School this week. They begin league play Jan. 3 at