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Wilson Leads Cleveland Fold Into the Final

March 01, 1986|JOHANNES TESSELAAR | Times Staff Writer

The Cavaliers have reached the promised Land .

Cleveland High, a team described by its coach as a "bunch of no-names" and Trevor Wilson, is in the City 4-A basketball championship game.

The Cavaliers reached the final with a 72-65 victory over San Pedro Friday night at the Sports Arena.

"Nobody expected us to be here," Cleveland Coach Bob Braswell said. "Nobody expected a Valley team to be here."

A lot of people expected the Cavaliers to be there last season, when they entered the playoffs seeded second and had a team that sent four players to Division I schools.

But Cleveland lost in the second round. Then Wilson, their All-American forward, was kicked off the team. The next day, their coach, Greg Herrick, quit.

"We had a lot of problems in the spring," Braswell said. "The Trevor situation. The transition to a new coach."

Wilson was reinstated to the team, but Cleveland started this season by losing four of its first six games.

Now, Cleveland is one win away from a championship. They will play Crenshaw, the two-time defending City champion, in the title game. Crenshaw defeated Carson, 90-82, in the other semifinal game Friday night.

"This victory means a lot to the program," Braswell said.

A 15-2 run that started late in the third quarter and extended into the fourth quarter propelled the Cavaliers into next Friday's final.

When San Pedro's Damon Whitsitt hit his fifth basket of the third quarter, Cleveland trailed, 48-45, with 3:04 left.

Whitsitt, who finished with a game-high 23 points, was hitting everything in sight. The Pirates, last year's losers in the City 3-A title game, had things going their way.

But then the Cavaliers got it going. Adrian King started it with a jumper. Chris Wheeler hit a short bank shot.

Albert Fann scored inside. Antoine Shofner made a free throw. Then with three seconds left in the third quarter, King gave Cleveland a 54-48 lead with a driving layup.

The Cavaliers continued their hot streak in the fourth quarter. Wheeler opened it with two free throws.

A basket by Zlatko Josic with 7:17 left broke Cleveland's string of 11 straight points.

"We seemed to be stuck on 48 for the longest of times," San Pedro Coach Jack Kordich said.

After Josic's basket, Wilson and Damon Greer took over.

The two combined for Cleveland's next 11 points to give the Cavaliers a 67-57 lead with just over three minutes left.

San Pedro (16-7) could never get closer than six points the rest of the way.

"It's been my No. 1 priority to reach the finals," said Wilson, who had 18 points and 22 rebounds. "That's one of the reasons I signed a letter of intent early. I wanted everything out of the way so I could give my best for the team."

Wilson, who will play at UCLA next season, is the acknowledged star of Cleveland.

But the big man against San Pedro was Greer, the 6-1 sophomore point guard.

Greer led Cleveland (16-7) with 19 points and did an excellent job of running the Cavaliers' offense.

"He was the key to the game," Kordich said of Greer. "He's the quarterback and he gets the ball to Trevor and the other guys."

Cleveland played the Pirates tight throughout the first half. San Pedro led, 15-14, after the first quarter, but trailed at the half, 33-32.

The reason was Wilson, who had 10 points in the second quarter after going scoreless in the first eight minutes.

The teams continued to trade the lead until Cleveland's decisive run.

"We're awfully young this year," Wilson said, "so I knew my leadership would be important."

Wilson is hoping he can lead the Cavaliers just one more game.

He'll get his chance next Friday.

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