OAKLAND — Santa Monica Crossroads High prepared for its second straight trip to the state basketball finals with an off-day Monday, a flat practice Tuesday and a workout Wednesday that ended when Coach Dave Benezra kicked the players out of the gym for lack of effort. The Roadrunners were anything but ready for their last game of the season.
Finally, they put two good practices together, but it wasn't until the team returned to the hotel after Friday's workout at the University of San Francisco that Benezra got a true feeling about the upcoming game. A passing exchange in the lobby between the players from Crossroads and Colusa, one in which the Roadrunners felt they were being talked down to, gave the Southern Section 1-A champions the push they needed.
"That did it," Benezra said. "To use the players' term, 'We were going to serve them.' "
When it came time to play, the Roadrunners not only served Colusa, they swallowed them whole. With a stifling defense and hot-shooting offense, Crossroads beat Colusa, 83-65 for the boys' Division III title Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, to win its first state title in three tries.
There was never much doubt. The Roadrunners (26-5) hit their first 13 shots of the game to jump out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter. By halftime, they had a 49-27 lead, making 66.7% of their shots (22 of 33).