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Crespi Is First at Long Last by Beating St. Paul

Division IV-AA boys' basketball final: After 42 years of trying, the Celts win a Southern Section championship by outclassing the Swordsmen, 71-57.


LONG BEACH — Dick Dornan planted his lips on the championship plaque, then waved it wildly to the hundreds of Crespi High students, parents, faculty and alumni who came to The Pyramid on Thursday night to watch a historic moment in the school's 42-year history.

"I've always dreamed about it," said the fourth-year Crespi coach. "Kissing the trophy meant we've accomplished something special."

From the first day of practice in November to the final moments when players and coaches were hugging like family, Dornan has stressed teamwork and defense.

It all came together in a 71-57 victory over St. Paul that gave the Celts (23-6) the Southern Section Division IV-AA championship, the first in school history.

"I don't know if we're a Cinderella story or a success story," Dornan said. "I hope everyone can experience this."

Kingsley Anyanwu scored 18 points, Andrew Moore had 15 points and Allan Ellis added 11 for Crespi, which led by eight points at halftime and by 17 in the fourth quarter.

Never did Crespi feel threatened. Never did St. Paul (18-14) lead.

Much credit goes to Charlie Shiebler, whose assignment was to follow St. Paul's three-point specialist, Rudy Serna, everywhere on the court.

Serna, who made six three-pointers in the semifinals, hit his first shot but didn't score again. He went one for seven.

"Every time he caught the ball, my hand was up," Shiebler said.

Added Moore: "If Serna goes off, then it's a whole different team. Charlie stepped it up to a championship level."

Shiebler is a 6-foot-2 senior so dedicated that when he was a freshman, he used to ride his bike five miles for practices.

He would do anything for a championship and contributed in so many unnoticed ways.

"This is what you play for," he said. "The chemistry and cohesion of this unit was phenomenal."

The most revealing moment came at the outset of the third quarter. Moore and Anyanwu each picked up their third fouls and were sent to the bench. With the Celts' two leading scorers unavailable, St. Paul had its chance.

Except the Celts expanded an eight-point lead to 13 because reserves Dino Fekaris and Derrick O'Dwyer played like starters.

By the time Moore and Anyanwu came back with 2:50 left in the third quarter, the Swordsmen were still down by nine points and going nowhere.

Dontay Holloway scored 22 points for St. Paul and Fausto Gonzalez had 18.

The Celts' fans were noisy and visible. Twelve buses came from Encino, with 90% of the student body of 465 purchasing tickets. Principal David Doyle was so excited he canceled classes today.

Dornan dedicated the championship to the top players of the past who came up short, such players as Paul Mokeski, Joe Carrabino, Chris Nikchevich and Pat Yerina, who led Crespi to success in Division I but never made it to a final.

But most of all, he thought of Paul Muff, Crespi's coach for 14 years who died in 1994.

"He's the one who started this," Dornan said. "A lot of players got so close but couldn't get over the hump."

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