By Timithie NORMAN
The buzzer sounded and a crowd cheered in the gymnasium of Crescenta Valley High School on Saturday as a group of women alumnae basketball players challenged the current CV girls’ varsity team in the annual fundraising showdown.
Approximately 15 past graduates gathered on campus to play a 32-minute exhibition game against the present varsity roster. Among them were notable athletes Jeanine Deno (2004), Sinnamonn Garrett (2000) and Michelle Greco (1998). All three played successfully in college; Greco went on to win a WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm and played for eight years around Europe.
“I remember my teammates here were wonderful,” Greco recalled. “We had a lot of tough games that were well-fought, and playing here at CV gave us a special bond.”
That bond was evident as the alumnae team, led by Lar Chouljian (1999), won handily over the varsity team 70-27. Yet the photos, celebrations, and camaraderie among all the players after the final buzzer made it clear that the game was enjoyed by all.
“It was nice to see all the players I saw when I was in eighth grade or a freshman come back,” said senior guard Emma Salmon. “We are just happy to be able to play all together – even though we got whooped, it was a fun time.”
The alumnae game, which has been played annually for more than 10 years, served as a fundraiser for the CVHS girls’ basketball program. Tickets to the event were sold, and proceeds from concession sales and a post-game pizza dinner went to the program, explained coordinator and CV mother Betsy Heckman.
“No one really cares who wins or loses,” she explained. “But the game is something to look forward to after their time at CV.”
Greco echoed the sentiment.
“I think it’s great for the tradition,” Greco said. “When I look back at my days in high school, we had great alumni that would come and support us. It was nice for the girls to see how strong the Lady Falcon program is.”
Greco’s years at Crescenta Valley were some of the best in the program’s history, with the school winning league and CIF titles. This year’s squad has faced some setbacks as four of the starting athletes have been out with injuries. The Falcons are 1-3 in their preseason so far, with Pacific League play beginning Jan. 4 at Muir High School in Pasadena.
“This was a good practice game to work on our plays,” Salmon said. “It was a fun time.”