Crespi senior guard Mike Krkeyan looked like he had been a sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao. There was a bandage above his left cheek covering three stitches from a cut suffered in the Celts' overtime loss to Chaminade last week.
It didn't bother him one bit on Monday night when he helped the Celts knock off Loyola, 68-57, for a critical Mission League road victory that put the Celts in first place.
"We just have a lot of heart," he said.
Krkeyan was one of four Celts to reach double figures. Freshman Taj Regans had 17 points, Mitch Mykhaylov had 16, Krkeyan had 11 and De'Anthony Melton 10 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals. Crespi improved to 15-5 and 4-1. Loyola dropped to 11-7 and 3-2.
"He's a warrior," Crespi Coach Russell White said of Krkeyan.
White is beginning to like his undersized team that plays three freshmen at times and plays tough defense.
"I'm encouraged because we're making progress," White said.
Loyola couldn't hit an outside shot for much of the game. The Cubs fell behind, 31-11, in the second quarter and trailed by 19 points in the third quarter. Max Hazzard and Henry Welsh each finished with 20 points, but the lack of consistency is worrisome for the Cubs.
For Crespi, the play of Regans is a big boost. "Taj was terrific on both ends," White said. "He had clutch threes and did a good job on Max. He has a bright future."
Regans made four threes.
Hazzard has struggled with his shooting and was limited to one basket in the first half and four points through the first 21 minutes of the game. The 6-foot-10 Welsh was Loyola's best player.
Crespi has a half-game lead over Alemany in the standings nearing the end of the first round of league play.
"We're definitely getting better," White said.