The defense wasn't getting back on the fast break, the offense was taking bad shots, overall concentration seemed to be lacking, and the Crenshaw coaches were all standing and shouting instructions in different directions.
That's the situation the Cougars faced Thursday night against Poway at Cal State Dominguez Hills with 1 1/2 minutes left in the game.
Crenshaw Coach Willie West and assistants Joe Weakley and Maurice Duckett were indeed nervous when Erin Silveyra hit a free throw to cap a three-point play to bring Poway, the three-time San Diego Section 3-A champion, to within two points and threaten an anticipated meeting between Crenshaw and Santa Ana Mater Dei Saturday at the Sports Arena for the Boys Division I Southern Region championship.
The show will go on, though. The Cougars held off Poway, scoring nine of the last 11 points to win, 82-73, and set up the showdown with Mater Dei.
"Maybe we needed a scare," West said afterward. "We got a couple before (during the season), but maybe this will help us."
Said Poway forward Jud Buechler: "I think we had them a little scared at the end."
Crenshaw (23-2) led by nine, 73-64, after Dion Brown's jumper with 2:49 left in the game, but Poway rallied behind Dominick Johnson, who had combined with Buechler for 55 of the Titans' 77 points in Tuesday's quarterfinal win over Pasadena Muir. Johnson scored two straight baskets before Silveyra's three-point play made it 73-71.
Then the Cougars took control. Ronald Caldwell converted a three-point play and Troy Batiste hit two free throws to push the advantage back to seven, 78-71.
"We had a shot there," said Poway Coach Neville Saner. "We had to play some D down there at the other end and hoped they did not score. Unfortunately for us, they did."
Guard Stephen Thompson, playing with a bruised thigh in addition to an injured finger on his shooting hand, led all scorers with 34 points, while Caldwell added 18, Brown 13 and Batiste 10 for Crenshaw.
Poway (26-4) got 30 points from Buechler, 26 from Johnson and 9 from Silveyra.
"In spite of the way we played," West said, "we played hard enough to win. And that's the bottom line."