For four years, Cassie Pappas honed her skills and increased her proficiency as a basketball player on the hardwood at Crescenta Valley High.
In her first three years with the Falcons program, Pappas showed flashes of brilliance, impressing coaches, frustrating opponents and thrilling fans with her inspired play.
Adapting to a switch to point guard this past season, Pappas was called upon to run the Crescenta Valley offense. She was essentially a coach on the floor, often dictating what plays the Falcons would run and where the ball would go.
"It was nice for [Coach Jason Perez] to have that much confidence in me to let me do that," said the 5-foot-7 Pappas. "It really helped my confidence. If he would call a play and we thought that maybe something else might work out better, he gave us the opportunity to change the play."
Perez said he had good reason to give Pappas that kind of leeway.
"She just has so much talent and she's so smart that we wanted everything to go through her, because she would know what to do," Perez said. "We wanted to let her offensive skills take place in a natural setting."
The piece de resistance of her Crescenta Valley career came during the 2009-10 season, as she put up big numbers, lifted her team to a second-place finish in the Pacific League and helped the Falcons advance to the CIF Southern Section Division IA quarterfinals.
In addition, she was honored with an All-CIF first-team accolade and was named the Pacific League co-Player of the Year.
It is because of Pappas' accomplishments that she has been named the 2010 All-Area Girls' Basketball Player of the Year by the sports editors and writers of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.
It seemed there was nothing Pappas couldn't do during her senior campaign. She scored 755 points and averaged 25.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals a game.
Her numbers ranked her third in points scored and fifth in scoring average in the Southern Section, and they were good enough to rank her fifth in points scored and eighth in scoring average in the state.
Pappas said one of her main focuses heading into her senior year was to try and complement her talented inside game with better outside shooting.
"I just wanted to be better at shooting the three-pointer," said Pappas, who sank 64 shots from beyond the arc. "I've always had a strong inside game, but I wanted to be able to hopefully hit the outside shot when I needed to."
Said Perez: "She went to play with her club team, the Storm, and after that she became dangerous from three-point range. She really worked hard to develop that three-point shot. And what that did for her game was that teams couldn't stop her because they would play off of her, and she would make them pay."
Pappas' improved outside game wasn't lost on opposing coaches. Being a former Crescenta Valley coach, current Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden has known Pappas since she was a young girl.
"You could see the difference in her play this season," Breeden said. "She's always been a good player, but she seemed to really step it up during her senior year."
It was that elevated play that helped propel Crescenta Valley to success this past season.
The Falcons soared to a 24-6 record and were 12-2 in the Pacific League, finishing one game behind champion Muir. Crescenta Valley even beat the Mustangs, 61-50, in a game in which Pappas scored 22 points — including five three-pointers.