Central Valley's varsity girls basketball team participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the third year in a row this past week.
The seventeenth-seeded Hawks struggled in the opening half and never recovered in losing 75-58 to the 16th-seeded Falcons of Atwater on the road during Friday's Division-II outbracket game at the Nest.
"We tried our best on the court," Central Valley senior point guard Blanca Espinoza said. "Our shots weren't going in. We missed a lot of free throws. That could have helped us out."
Central Valley amassed an 11-13 overall record and earned a runner-up finish in the Western Athletic Conference standings (7-3).
Atwater improved to 20-7 overall. The Falcons placed third in the Central California Conference (8-4).
"I was confident my team was going to make playoffs again," said Espinoza, whose squad fell short in its quest to win back-to-back conference titles. "We had a strong connection. We worked well together."
Espinoza totaled 14 points, eight assists and two steals against Atwater.
Senior Adriana Haynes tallied 17 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Senior Adria Robinson collected 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Senior Delores Uti had six points and four rebounds.
Senior Alexis Contreras had five points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Atwater had a balanced attack on offense as 10 different players broke into the scoring column.
Kelsey Valencia and Jasmine Xiong led the way with 17 points apiece.
Alondra Ponce had 13 points.
Lexi Valencia added nine points.
The Hawks shot just 33 percent (22 of 67) from the field and 44 percent (14 of 32) from the free-throw line for the game.
"Everybody is sad," Espinoza said. "It's our last time playing basketball together."
Atwater outscored Central Valley 14-5 in the first quarter on its way to building a 42-23 lead in the opening half.
"Everything worked out for them," Espinoza said. "We could have communicated more. We played better in the second half."
The Hawks had just seven players in uniform versus the Falcons.
Senior Mahogany Simon, junior Rosie Duarte and sophomore Sue Dhillon missed the contest.
"We didn't have our whole team there," Espinoza said. "They were on vacation."
Atwater defeated Central Valley 47-29 in non-conference play on Dec. 6 in Ceres.