Lady Falcons beaten by Ayala in playoffs

By Brandon HENSLEY

The line to get into the Crescenta Valley gym was a little longer than usual Wednesday night for the Lady Falcons playoff basketball game against Ayala.

As it turns out, CV fans didn’t get to see a victory, but they did get to say goodbye and congratulate the team on a successful season.

The Falcons fell to the Bulldogs 67-51 in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1-A playoffs, ending what some may say was a surprising season.

All-Pacific League senior guard Cassie Pappas had 31 points and 7 rebounds for the Falcons, who suffered their first home defeat. They were previously 12-0.

By beating Valencia and Martin Luther King last week, the Falcons advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001. They finished second in the Pacific League, and had a regular season record of 22-5. They were the sixth seed entering the postseason. While the team has Pappas and sharp-shooting role players in Sarah Yoon and Ani Ebrahimian, they also lack size, which was apparent against the much taller Bulldogs.

CV Coach Jason Perez was visibly emotional afterward, recounting the season. “We don’t have a kid that’s legitimately over 5’8” … you take a look at the teams we’ve beaten. I don’t think anyone would have thought we had a chance to do anything,” he said.

Perez said he was proud of his team and made note of how together the Falcons were all season, that they weren’t just a one-woman show.

“The other girls stepped up and did their part. They played defense and scored when they had to,” he said, while adding that he thought this was one of the closest teams he has ever coached.

Ayala, on the other hand, showed why they were the third seed entering the playoffs. The Bulldogs entered the contest on a 15-game winning streak and won the Sierra League title. Senior guard Ariel Marsh hurt the Falcons from the three-point line from the start, but the main reason for the Bulldogs’ success was in their height.

Six-foot-2 Jillian Alleyne and 6-1 Rhema Gardner towered over the smaller Shayna Svihovec and Chisso Hemelians. Quick interior passing and offensive rebounding had the Bulldogs take a dominating 25-5 lead after one quarter.

“They didn’t miss anything in the first quarter, then they got on that long lead, that kind of disheartened us,” said Pappas, who averaged 28.3 points per game in the playoffs.

“We came out a little shell-shocked,” admitted Perez.