Quietly but convincingly, Encino Crespi is emerging as the second-best high school basketball team in Southern California behind Chino Hills.
The list of quality opponents the Celts are beating is growing — Orange Lutheran, Corona Centennial, Redondo, Dorsey and Inglewood twice.
The host Celts (30-4) set a school record for most victories with a 69-62 victory over Inglewood on Saturday night in a quarterfinal game of the Division I Southern California Regional.
Sophomore Brandon Williams, who was 0 for 9 from the field in the first half, finished with 26 points. USC-bound senior De'Anthony Melton scored 25 points. And another sophomore guard, Taj Regans, made four three-point baskets and finished with 12 points.
"They're really good players," Crespi Coach Russell White said. "They can create on their own."
Inglewood (22-9) held a 29-26 lead after one half, then was called for six fouls in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
Williams made his first shot of the game (it bounced off the rim and fell through the net) and didn't stop shooting.
"It was shooter's touch," Williams said. "One of my coaches told me to keep shooting. You'll find your rhythm. It helped."
Melton's dunk in the fourth quarter gave Crespi a 50-39 lead and excited the crowd. He drove the length of the court, saw an opening and slammed it through.
"It kind of fired me up," Melton said.
Jordan Bell scored 17 points and Terrell Gomez 14 for Inglewood.
For White, seeing his team's development has been a season-long goal. The Celts won a Division IV state championship last season and wanted to compete against the best this season.
"It's something to be proud of and build upon," he said. "We've beaten some quality teams. It establishes us as being one of the better teams in Southern California. I feel we're in that conversation."
They will host San Diego St. Augustine in a semifinal game Tuesday. St. Augustine defeated Eastvale Roosevelt, 54-52.
Harbor City Narbonne defeated Mission Hills Alemany, 72-70, in overtime in another quarterfinal game.
In the top individual performance of the night, sophomore Riley Battin scored 47 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in Oak Park's 93-67 victory over Bernstein in Division III.