St. John Bosco Coach Tim Haley's pregame appraisal was commendable for its honesty. It was also lamentable for its accuracy.
"I think we're 1-6 or something like that in this gym," Haley said as
he pointed to the usually unfriendly confines of his own gymnasium Friday night. "But Crespi is 0-5 on the road.
Referees who viewed a videotape replay to overturn a call against Kennedy High defend their action, Page 15.
"This one ought to be a real titanic struggle," he said with a laugh.
The last few minutes of the Del Rey League game, however, were-- especially when St. John Bosco guard Bobby Vasquez hit a three-point bomb at the buzzer to sink Crespi, 61-58, and eliminate the Celts from the Southern Section 5-A Division playoff picture.
A win by Crespi (13-12, 5-7) would have forced a playoff for third place in the league tonight with Bosco Tech, which defeated St. Francis, 103-70, on Friday to finish 6-6 in league play.
"I can't really explain it," Crespi Coach Paul Muff said with a shake of his head. "I guess it just wasn't in the cards or something. Just the way it ended sort of summed it up."
The ending also was Crespi's season in a nutshell.
Crespi trailed, 58-54, with 45 seconds left, but Celts' forward Bill Foudy, who finished with a team-high 21 points, cut the lead to two with a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining.
The Braves (8-14, 5-7) misplayed the inbounds pass, however, when guard Edgar Loera stepped on the end line to give the ball back to Crespi. The Celts worked the ball inside to reserve forward Ashley Hunt, who missed from five feet. But John Davis followed with a tip-in to tie the score, 58-58, with 18 seconds left.
Without calling a timeout, St. John Bosco immediately inbounded the ball, but the offense broke down and Vasquez found himself alone at the top of the key with two seconds left and plenty of room.
"It was a total breakdown," Vasquez said as teammates mobbed him. "I never felt like this."
Probably because he never scored 30 points before, a career high for the 6-1 guard.
Vasquez tossed up a rainbow that rattled around before falling through as the buzzer sounded.
At approximately the same time, Crespi forward Ken Lynch was lying on his back near the Crespi bench, eyes affixed on a towel draped over his head.
"Hey, this is basketball and the ball takes lots of funny bounces," Muff said. "The one at the end rattled around, the one off the top of the backboard."
Muff was alluding to a shot by St. John Bosco's Matt Sampson with 5:12 left. Like the game-winner, it drew plenty of rim paint before bouncing high off the top of the backboard and through the hoop to give the Braves a 49-46 lead.
Crespi had plenty of opportunities to blow the game open, especially in the third quarter. St. John Bosco turned the ball over eight times, but Crespi made only 5 of 17 shots in the quarter.
Lynch, who finished with nine points before fouling out with with 1:52 left, scored two minutes into the third to cut the Braves' lead to 32-31. Crespi then proceeded to miss its next eight shots.
Despite the shooting breakdown, Crespi only trailed, 45-40, after three quarters. The Celts cut the Braves' lead to 47-46 on a three-point shot by Foudy with 6:30 remaining. Foudy hit three shots from three-point range in the second half to keep Crespi close.
The game capped an up-and-down season for Crespi, which could not quite put together a winning streak when needed. All things considered, it was a season far removed from last year's 3-18 debacle.
"Overall, it's quite an improvement from last season," Muff said.