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Crenshaw Over the Generals in a Cakewalk


The Crenshaw High boys' basketball team began the season with eight transfers who had never played together, not even in summer league. The Cougars had the ingredients to make a championship team, but the players needed time to come together.

After 19 games, Coach Willie West has discovered how to blend his players like a baker making a cake and the Cougars have been rising in The Times' polls.

On Friday, the Cougars, ranked third by The Times, dusted off No. 10 Washington, 82-55, in a Southern League game at Crenshaw.

Crenshaw has won six consecutive Southern Pacific Conference games since losing to Washington in the finals of L.A. Officials tournament in December. The Cougars, who improved to 17-2 overall, have beaten league rivals Washington twice and Dorsey once. Their next big game will be against Dorsey Friday at Crenshaw.

"We gave them a lot of things to learn in a hurry," West said of his new players. "We didn't have a chance to reflect on our mistakes. Now we have time to work in practice with individual players and teach them the system."

After the holiday break, the Generals (17-4) appeared to be the team to beat in the City Section after winning both the L.A. Officials and the L.A. Invitational tournaments. Their success was sparked by Stacey Thomas, a 6-foot-7 center, and Dayron Harris, a 6-foot-4 forward, who proved a formidable scoring duo inside the key. Guard Craige Slaughter was the main threat from outside.

But Slaughter, who scored only five points against Crenshaw, has been recovering from an ankle injury, and Thomas and Harris were not effective inside, combining for only nine points.

"We're definitely not playing as well as we were in the Christmas tournaments," said Washington co-coach Andy Davis. "We're not hustling on defense and we're not making our shots. We're searching for answers and we're not getting any."

The Generals were up 6-4 early in the first period, but missed five layups and never regained the lead. Dominating under the basket, the Cougars had three players finish in double figures in points and rebounds--Tremaine Fowkles (21 points, 15 rebounds), Reggie McFerren (19 and 15) and Kris Johnson (17 and 11).

Fowkles scored nine points in the first period as Crenshaw held a 17-10 lead. The Cougars extended their lead to 10 as Harris sat out most of the second period with three fouls.

"That killed us," Davis said.

McFerren made a three-point shot to begin the second half and Johnson made a short jump shot as Crenshaw's lead grew to 15. Washington made a brief run late in the third period and cut the deficit to seven, 43-36, with 2:07 remaining. But Crenshaw outscored Washington 14-2 to begin the fourth quarter and was never threatened again.

Records: Crenshaw 17-2; Washington 17-4.

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