In the Delphic League, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Campbell Hall High entered its game against defending league champion Crossroads on Saturday night with high hopes, plenty of confidence, five returning starters and a new coach, Jon Palarz.
Crossroads had lost a handful of starters from a year ago, and Campbell Hall had aspirations of dethroning the reigning king of one of the most competitive leagues in the Southern Section.
Yet when the smoke had cleared--and after the teams had combined for a head-spinning 55 free throws--Crossroads walked away with a 76-71 victory at Santa Monica High.
"Crossroads believes in themselves and still deserves to be regarded as the best team in the Delphic League," Palarz said. "They played four league games this week . . . a murderous schedule, and they are still in first place."
Crossroads (7-6, 4-0 in league play) has never lost a boys' basketball game to the Vikings since Campbell Hall started playing the sport in 1983-84, and it can thank its smallest player for keeping the unblemished record intact. Junior point guard Trevon Dugar, all 5-foot-7 of him, scorched the Vikings (8-5, 2-1) for a career-high 43 points.
"He played very smart for the situation," Palarz said. "He's quicker, stronger and so small, we had difficulty guarding him with bigger players."
Not that Campbell Hall's bigger players were on the floor all that long. Center Alex Lopez (6-10) and forward Scott Glass (6-6) spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble. But then, so did almost everybody but Dugar.
Without Lopez and Glass to plug the interior, Dugar consistently knifed through the Campbell Hall defense for layins. Three times he was fouled while scoring, and he converted each time. Dugar made 17 of 19 free throws, seven of seven in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Glass, Lopez and senior guard Austin McKellar (21 points) fouled out in the fourth quarter. Dugar and Bakir Allen--the son of former NBA star Lucius Allen--combined to score 22 of Crossroads' 24 fourth-quarter points. Allen made six of six free throws in the quarter as Campbell Hall was forced to foul to regain possession.
Trailing, 67-64, the Vikings were still alive, but a turnover and an ensuing three-point play by Dugar gave Crossroads a 70-64 lead with 51 seconds left.