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2074 posts
  • Basketball

Things are back to normal at Crespi, which won state basketball titles in 2015 and 2016, then slipped to 10-17 last season.

The Celts’ outstanding senior guards, Brandon Williams and Taj Regans, are healthy, so beware. Crespi improved to 4-0 on Friday with a 76-69 win over Calabasas in the semifinals of the West Valley tournament. Crespi will play Chaminade in the championship game Saturday at 6 p.m. at Calabasas.

Williams, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, poured in 26 points in his third game back. Regans had 13 points. Junior Kyle Owens contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds. Max Chelylov finished with 22 points for Calabasas.

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The state cross-country championships are set for Saturday morning at Woodward Park in Fresno, and lots of people will be coming out to see if Claudia Lane of Malibu can break the course record.

Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley set the mark for girls at 16:40 in 2012. Lane will be doing her running in the Division 4 race.

In Division 1 boys, it’s a wide-open field. Shane Bissell of Loyola won the Southern Section Division 1 race last week in a close finish.

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St. Francis players practice on Thanksgiving morning.
St. Francis players practice on Thanksgiving morning. (Eric Sondheimer)

On Thanksgiving morning, prep football teams still alive in the playoffs got together to be thankful that they’re still playing. It’s quite a tradition.

“It’s always the best day of the year,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said Thursday morning.

There were doughnuts, bagels and fruit for parents and players as the team went through a final practice before playing El Toro in a Division 3 semifinal on Friday at St. Francis.

  • Basketball
Brandon Williams, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, gets a dunk for Crespi on Wednesday night.
Brandon Williams, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, gets a dunk for Crespi on Wednesday night. (Eric Sondheimer)

There couldn’t have been a better present that Crespi guard Brandon Williams received on Wednesday for his 18th birthday than delivering a dunk against Viewpoint in a 67-42 victory in the West Valley tournament at Chaminade.

This was the same Brandon Williams, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. He’s still only allowed to play about 10 minutes in the game under doctor orders as he sees how he’s doing physically. Let’s just say Williams is back and with a vengeance.

He finished with 19 points and had flashes of the brilliance many have expected of him since he helped Crespi win state championships when he was a freshman and sophomore. He’s committed to Arizona, and Wildcat fans will be very happy with his progress.

Early season girls’ basketball games don’t get much better than Wednesday night’s duel between Harvard-Westlake and Windward, considered two of the top teams in California.

Windward fell behind by as many as 18 points, rallied to tie the game in regulation and won it in overtime when Selena McLurkin made a driving layup with two seconds left for a 68-67 victory.

McLurkin, who finished with 15 points, missed all of last season with a knee injury. Kaiyah Corona led Windward with 20 points.

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Audrius Barzdukas used to be head of athletics at Harvard-Westlake starting in 2003. Then he became head of upper school. In 2016, he left to become head of school at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.

And now he’s using his Southern California connections to help the athletic program.

He has hired Ben Diaz, the girls’ volleyball coach at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, to be the Poly Prep coach. And he’s hiring Otto Locayo from Encino Westridge to start a club program.

GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

CIF STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

  • Basketball
Joshua Christopher soars for one of his five dunks for Mayfair on Tuesday night. He finished with 31 points in loss to Redondo.
Joshua Christopher soars for one of his five dunks for Mayfair on Tuesday night. He finished with 31 points in loss to Redondo. (Eric Sondheimer)

The way Westchester was playing in the second quarter on Tuesday night, Coach Ed Azzam might as well have returned to Northern California to hang out with his new granddaughter.

The Comets were down, 25-8, to Dominguez in the quarterfinals of the Redondo tournament. By halftime, their deficit was down to eight. They outscored the Dons, 25-4, to take the lead, then pulled out a 58-56 victory when Jordan Brinson made two free throws with 5.4 seconds left.

Westchester (2-0) will play Narbonne (2-0) in the semifinals on Friday at 8 p.m. Narbonne defeated Oak Park, 58-57. That’s a battle of City Section powers.

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Verbum Dei transfer Jordan Griffin helped Narbonne knock off Oak Park.
Verbum Dei transfer Jordan Griffin helped Narbonne knock off Oak Park. (Eric Sondheimer)

On the day Narbonne showed up with new Adidas uniforms after the shoe company became an official team sponsor, the players went out and pulled off a 58-57 upset victory over No. 7-ranked Oak Park on Tuesday in a quarterfinal game of the Redondo tournament.

Narbonne was unranked in The Times’ preseason rankings but that’s going to change. The Gauchos have two players who started last season for Verbum Dei, 6-foot-4 guard Jordan Griffin and 6-9 center Malik Muhammad, and both made huge contributions.

Griffin scored 17 points and Muhammad had 10 points and 14 rebounds. Coach Anthony Hilliard was beaming afterward. He has a team with depth and talent.

Joseph Escalante made three threes and had 11 points. Standout guard Kendal Frey made a key three in the fourth quarter.

“They’re excellent players who came and fit right in,” Hilliard said of the Verbum Dei duo who left after their coach, Jason Crowe, went to Lynwood.

Oak Park had a chance to go for the win, getting the ball with 26 seconds left. Then the Eagles called timeout with 2.5 seconds left, but Riley Battin couldn’t sink an outside shot with three players in his way.

Battin finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Clark Slajchert added 14 points.

Narbonne and Oak Park played such powerful defense that it resembled a state playoff game in November.

Narbonne is still expected to add players after the football season and on Jan. 1 when the sit-out period ends for transfers who didn’t move. The Gauchos look very much like a City title contender.

“We’re trying,” Hilliard said.

Gauchos advance in Redondo tournament
  • Football

Grant Lowary’s senior season playing quarterback for Huntington Beach Edison was cut short because of an injury. He now has resurfaced playing junior college football.

He was named first-team all-conference at Long Beach City College after passing for 3,140 yards and 30 touchdowns.

He’s 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has a 3.9 grade-point average and has completed his sophomore season.