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Practice made for a perfect ending for L.A. Price's Allen Crabbe

The senior guard put in extra work in the off-season, and the payoff came with Southern Section and state championships this season, and now, boys' player-of-the-year recognition from The Times.

April 12, 2010|By Ben Bolch

Allen Crabbe shares more than a name with his father.

The father would sneak out of his Philadelphia home to play basketball until 2 in the morning.

The son would call his high school coach a few hours after practice to re-open the gym and weight room late into the night.

The father would shovel snow off concrete just to play.

The son would cut short a vacation just to get back on the court.

Father and son often hit gyms together over the last few years, staying until the teenager made between 800 and 1,000 shots during sessions that lasted several hours.

"He knows he has a gift from God," the elder Crabbe said, "and he wanted to take it a step further."

It wasn't long after the younger Crabbe commandeered gyms that he started taking over games for Los Angeles Price High. As a senior, the 6-foot-6 guard scored 38 points in victories over Crenshaw and Ventura. He accepted a scholarship from California. He led the Knights to Southern Section and state titles.

"It just showed that all the hard work I put in paid off," said Crabbe, who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in earning The Times' player-of-the-year award.

There was a time when Crabbe might have wondered about his legacy.

Growing up, Crabbe watched the Knights win five state titles at the school named for his grandfather, the Rev. Frederick K.C. Price. He had been the team's ball boy and traveled to Arco Arena in Sacramento, where Price Coach Michael Lynch won enough rings to fill one hand.

"When you're a little kid, you like to see the older guys do spectacular things," Crabbe said. "I realized that I was going to be doing that someday."

But in each of his first three high school seasons, the Knights lost in the Southern California regional championship. Crabbe had only one more chance to fulfill what seemed like his destiny.

So the day Crabbe's junior season ended, Lynch said, "he went to work like I've never seen him work." He put on about 20 pounds of muscle with the help of a trainer and grew three inches. His teammates noticed the way he continually honed every facet of his game in practice.

"When you have a teammate like that," senior forward Richard Solomon said, "you just want to push yourself so you can try to be better."

Already a proficient long-range shooter, Crabbe became more of a physical force who often posted up smaller guards.

"He was definitely one of the tougher matchups for us," said Orange Lutheran Coach Chris Nordstrom, whose team suffered a 73-70 loss to Price in the Southern Section Division 4AA championship as Crabbe scored 22 points.

For all his feats on the court, Crabbe did something truly extraordinary after leading the Knights to their first appearance in a state title game since 2005. The day before the team left for Bakersfield, Crabbe called his teammates and coaches together and thanked them for putting him in position to win a litany of awards, including the Gatorade state player of the year.

"That was some serious leadership on his part," Lynch said.

Then Crabbe did his thing in the state title game, leading Price to a 69-51 victory over Albany St. Mary's with 25 points and 10 rebounds. The goal that had eluded him for so long was achieved.

"His motto was that he was going to do whatever it takes to win," Crabbe's father said, "and he stepped up real big in every way."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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