Paul Muff is not a coach whose halftime speeches resemble Bible Belt sermons.
"We don't yell or shout at them or anything," the Crespi High basketball coach said.
Whatever Muff does, he does it right. Crespi has played better in the second half of each of its games--especially Tuesday, when the Celts turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 70-49 victory over Torrance in the first round of the Beverly Hills tournament.
Crespi will play Palisades, a 58-40 winner over Rio Mesa, in the second round at 3:30 this afternoon.
Crespi trailed, 24-22, at the start of the second half, but opened the third quarter with a 13-1 run.
"We picked up our defense and it got our break going and our offense going," Muff said.
Guards Matt Turner and Mike Tilikian spearheaded Crespi's defense and turned Torrance errors into Crespi layups. Turner had 5 steals, 4 assists and 12 points. Tilikian had 8 points, 7 assists.
Crespi forward Pat Brady stole a Torrance pass and scored on an uncontested layup to put Crespi ahead, 26-25, a minute into the third quarter.
Crespi (3-1) scored the next seven points and outscored Torrance (1-3), 19-5, in the third quarter.
Junior Ken Lynch had 11 points and 18 rebounds for Crespi and Bill Foudy added 16 points.
Saugus 52, Westlake 51--The Centurions rallied from an eight-point deficit by outscoring Westlake, 17-9, in the fourth quarter in a first-round game.
"We were starting to wonder what it takes to win," Saugus Coach John Clark said.
Saugus (1-2) won the Southern Section 3-A Division championship last year, but this year's team has only three players with varsity experience. "I'm really happy with the way we came back. We showed some character."
Saugus will play Ventura today at 5 in the second round of the six-day tournament. Westlake (1-2) will play Hart in a consolation game Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Ron Bilek, who finished with a game-high 19 points, scored six in the fourth quarter. Jason Harrison, a transfer from Hamilton, scored all his points in the last quarter.
Jared Snyder, the starting quarterback for Saugus' football team, added 12 points. Kevin Logan led Westlake with 13 points and Kurt Schwan added 12.
Palisades 58, Rio Mesa 40--The Dolphins (2-1) outscored Rio Mesa, 12-0, in the third quarter to blow open the first-round game.
Sophomore Eric Thomas led Rio Mesa (1-2) with nine points. The Spartans play Torrance in a consolation-bracket game at 2 today.
Ventura 79, Hart 68--The Indians trailed, 20-9, after one quarter and never got closer than five points in a first-round game.
Hart's Steve Valenzuela led all scorers with 23 points and teammate Darren Hinman added 19.