Against a backdrop of bricks, the Alemany and Crespi basketball teams turned the Alemany High gym into a fireplace Thursday night in their Del Rey League opener.
Alemany felt right at home playing in its small and cozy brick-walled gym, making a sizzling 66.7% of their shots from the field.
But because Crespi dominated the boards, especially on the offensive end, Alemany trailed throughout and lost, 61-53, in front of a capacity crowd.
"Crespi's rebounding killed us," Alemany Coach Joe Anlauf said. "I warned my team about it before the game and told them again at halftime."
Crespi forward Steve Tanin had 10 rebounds and center Steve Yoest added nine. They combined for 10 offensive boards.
The Celts made 25 of 48 field-goals (52.1%), but the coaches were even hotter during a sluggish first quarter.
After an uncontested Crespi basket, Anlauf called time out, threw up his arms and yelled to one of his players, "Where's your man?"
Crespi Coach Paul Muff was no less demonstrative at the end of the first period. "You look like a bunch of zombies," he yelled as his team trudged off the floor, although the Celts led, 12-10.
The prodding worked--at least for the Celts. Crespi crackled in the second quarter, outscoring Alemany, 17-10, to take a nine-point halftime lead, 29-20. Senior guard Pat Knight was especially hot, making all four of his shots in the first half.
"I felt we were flat early," Muff said. "Our offense depends on movement, everyone in constant motion, and if we're standing around we don't score."
Scoring heated up in the third quarter when diminutive Alemany guard Randy Thompson entered the game with Crespi leading, 43-29. A 5-7 junior, Thompson hit a 22-footer, then stole the inbounds pass and made a layup. After a Crespi miss, Thompson cut loose a 25-foot bomb and Alemany trailed by only eight.
A Thompson steal and layup moments later cut Crespi's lead to 47-41, but the Indians never got closer.
Crespi (8-4) employed a suffocating press over the last six and a half minutes of the game and slowed the ball effectively on offense as well. The patient, patterned Celt offense forced Alemany to foul in the fourth quarter, and Crespi was perfect on eight free throws. The Celts hit 11 of 13 overall.
Alemany, which had only 13 rebounds, made 13 of 17 shots in the second half to stay close. Crespi selected its shots less judiciously, but the rebounding of Tanin and Yoest compensated for the misses. Yoest was only five of 11 shooting in the first half, but on three of his misses, he grabbed the rebound. He finished with a game-high 19 points.
Center Bill Lucid led Alemany (6-6) with 14 points, but received his fourth foul with 6:30 remaining in the game. The Indians have only eight players on their roster, and none of the reserves are taller than 6-2, so Lucid had to remain in the game.
"That's all that went out for the team," said Anlauf with a shrug when asked about his small squad.
Of course, Alemany would have nine players if James Moses had returned this season. Instead, Moses, who averaged 17 points a game as a freshman last season, transferred to Serra because he couldn't arrange dependable transportation from his Carson home to Alemany.
"He would have made a big difference," Muff said. "Anyone who says otherwise is stupid."
Anlauf, who knew Moses wouldn't return to Alemany before the school year began, said he tries not to think about what might have been.
"I'm over that stage. Thinking about it won't help my team. And we've got a good team," he said.
Muff, whose Celts are beginning a quest for their fourth Del Rey title in five years, agreed: "Alemany is well-coached and they shoot well. They will beat some people in our league."
Obviously, so will Crespi.
CRESPI--Tanin 4 and 10 rebounds; Campbell 4; Yoest 19 and 9 rebounds; Knight 16; Turner 15; Morley 3.
ALEMANY--Swanson 11; Rooney 2; Lucid 14 and 7 rebounds; Thomas 8; Bargeman 6; Thompson 12.