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CIF STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Crenshaw Rallies to Win Title

Division I boys: Cougars come from 15 points down for Willie West's eighth state title.

March 23, 1997|ERIC SHEPARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — It will take something of a miracle to beat the Crenshaw boys' basketball team in a state championship game.

Trailing Alameda St. Joseph by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Cougars staged another of their famous comebacks en route to an 88-82 victory in the state Division I final Saturday night at the Pond.

Crenshaw Coach Willie West remains undefeated in state championship games, improving his record to 8-0.

In the girls' Division I final, Berkeley defeated Crenshaw, 57-44, thwarting Crenshaw's bid to become the first school to win boys' and girls' Division I titles in the same year.

West's undefeated mark in the finals has been achieved with several notable comebacks, and the one against St. Joseph may have been the most thrilling yet.

St. Joseph (31-4), which last won a title in 1992 with Jason Kidd, was in control for 3 1/2 quarters, building leads as big 15 points in the third quarter.

Crenshaw (27-3), which advanced to the final with a similar come-from-behind victory over Mater Dei in the Southern Regional championship game last Saturday, didn't panic.

It didn't hurt that St. Joseph's leader, junior forward Ray Young, fouled out with 4:45 remaining. Young scored 16 points and had six rebounds.

His departure seemed to shatter the Pilots' confidence and supply Crenshaw with the lift it was looking for. Forward Alastair Faux, who was only eight of 22 from the floor, suddenly got hot by making two three-pointers down the stretch. He had made only one of 11 other three-point attempts.

Senior point guard Kevin Bradley, who had also struggled by making only 10 of 29 shots, had two layups and made five of six free throws in the final 29 seconds as part of the rally.

"We don't care if we're down by 20 points," Bradley said. "We just keep working and know good things will happen."

Crenshaw took its first lead since midway through the second quarter on a Faux three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to put the Cougars ahead, 81-79.

Bradley finished with a team-high 24 points and Faux had 22.

St. Joseph had three turnovers in the final minute to dash its chances.

Sophomore guard Blandon Ferguson had 24 points to lead St. Joseph.

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