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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

One Moore Time

After Considering a Transfer, All-League Guard Returns to Crespi for Senior Year and Leads Run for Title

March 01, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ENCINO — Sometimes the best move is no move at all.

Just ask Andrew Moore of Crespi High, who was the talk of Valley basketball last spring when word leaked that he might be transferring.

"I was pretty frustrated the way things were going," he said. "I wanted to check things out."

Dissension resulted in a sixth-place finish for Crespi in the seven-team Mission League. Moore didn't want to endure another year of bickering and turmoil.

He thought about transferring to Thousand Oaks, his neighborhood school. He sought entrance to Notre Dame, where his best friend, Michael Luderer, transferred a year earlier.

Coach Dick Dornan knew the All-Mission League guard was weighing his options and could only wait to see if loyalty and promises of a fresh start would win out.

Moore wound up placing his trust in Dornan and decided to stay. He became Crespi's all-time scoring leader this season and is on the verge of leading the Celts to their first Southern Section basketball championship since the school opened in 1959.

Crespi (22-6) plays St. Paul (18-13) today at 5:45 p.m. in the Division IV-AA final at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

The school has rented 12 rooter buses to transport fans to the game. As of Wednesday, 420 student tickets had been sold in a student body of 465.

"It means a lot for all of us," Moore said. "Nobody really expected us to go this far except for us, so it's a pretty satisfying experience. We have so many weapons. It's always a different person stepping up each game and I think that's what makes us tough."

Picked to finish no higher than fourth in the competitive Mission League, the Celts shared the league title with Notre Dame. Their unselfishness, hustle and determination have left the 6-foot-2 Moore feeling invigorated in his senior year.

"We learned last year that individualism will not lead to success," Moore said. "We had so much talent and didn't do anything. This year we have probably less talent but have the chemistry."

Dornan offered Moore an opportunity.

"My challenge to him was to make other players better," he said.

Last season in 26 games, Moore averaged 18.6 points and shot 202 three-pointers. This season in 28 games, he's averaging 17.3 and has taken 176 three-pointers. He worked on improving his defense, increasing his assists and getting more teammates involved in the offense.

Many players would be upset if their scoring average dropped. Not Moore.

"I'll take 10 assists and six rebounds as long as we win," he said.

He's one of many Crespi players who were given specific roles, accepted them and helped produce an extraordinary turnaround.

Allan Ellis has used his quickness and ball-handling skills to become a top junior point guard.

Kingsley Anyanwu, a 6-4 senior forward, is averaging 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds after missing most of last season with a knee injury. His fearlessness against taller players adds to his effectiveness.

Charlie Shiebler, a 6-2 senior, does all the dirty work--diving for loose balls, making clutch free throws, playing tough post defense and stealing rebounds from stronger players.

Paul Angel, a 6-6, 260-pound senior, finds a way to contribute, whether it's setting screens, rebounding or scoring when no one expects him to.

Moore has a 4.0 grade-point average and hasn't cut his shaggy blond hair since August.

"Everybody is telling me to cut it, but I can't until the end of the season," he said. "I'm kind of like Samson--the more hair I get, the stronger the team gets."

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