Last season, Scotts Valley defeated the Cardinals twice on their way to the league championship. This season appears to be a different story. Claussen led a huge fourth quarter come-from-behind victory to top the Falcons 45-38 in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League opener.
Claussen scored just four points on the night but was the bane of Scotts Valley’s leading scorer Natalia Ebrahimian.
Ebrahimian has averaged nearly 20 points a game this season, but was limited to 14 on the night. But she was pestered by Claussen who had eight steals and directed a masterful 20-2 fourth quarter rally that gave the Cardinals the victory.
The Falcons (9-2 pre-season, 0-1 SCCAL) came out hot behind Ebrahimian’s 10 quick points and put up a 13-point lead on the Cardinals (12-1) by the end of the first quarter.
“We came out hot and played really well for the first part of the game,” said Falcon Head Coach Jim Hart. “We lost our rhythm and fell apart as bad as any team I have coached in the fourth quarter.”
The Falcons normally potent offense couldn’t keep pace with the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. Claussen and fellow senior Pauli Pappas hurt the Falcons — Pappas, during one stretch, scored seven consecutive points to lead the charge.
“This is such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Claussen said. “I have been crushed by (the Falcons) for the last two years so this is the best feeling in the world for me, I cannot even describe it. “
Sophomore Angela Silver led the scoring for the defending-league champion Falcons with 15 points and two assists. Along with her 14 points, Ebrahimian posted six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Nadene Hart grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Falcons defensively.
Scotts Valley had won seven straight games including a 29-28 victory over the defending Central Coast Section Division IV Champions Notre Dame of Belmonte before falling to the Cardinals. The team plays next at Harbor High at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6.