There's little doubt that in a year's time, Encino Crespi will have its best basketball team in Russell White's 10 seasons as coach.
But the Celts don't want to wait to win a second section title under White. They're set to play San Luis Obispo Mission Prep for the 4AA championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Azusa Pacific.
There are four freshmen seeing action, and the Celts' best player this season has been junior De'Anthony Melton, whose scoring, rebounding, steals and hustle have led the team to being one win away from a championship.
"We just battled and competed and slowly have gotten better," White said. "It's all about growing and getting better."
Crespi was close to being an Open Division team but losses in Mission League play cost the Celts. When Bishop Montgomery and Orange Lutheran got picked for the Open Division out of 4AA, it cleared the way for them to make a title bid.
Standing in the way is Mission Prep, which likes to pick up the pace and has the division's best player in Columbia-bound Quinton Adlesh.
It would be wise to beat the Celts now, because if all goes as expected, they will be a very tough team to beat next season. Expected to join the team is Max Heidegger, who this year moved back to Crespi from a prep school and is a very talented player when healthy.
Lots of teams have learned there are no guarantees, so you better win a title when you have a chance.
White said he has come to enjoy this team.
"They've got some moxie in them," he said.