Before Saturday's Southern Section boys' 1-A final at the Long Beach Arena, Coach Tom Maier characterized his Chadwick team as one that played tough man-to-man defense and always had one or two players come through in a game.
In the final against Crossroads, the Dolphins fit that description and more in winning, 63-56, for their second 1-A title in the last six years.
In addition to its man-to-man press, Chadwick was dominant on the boards, outrebounding Crossroads, 54-39.
And instead of two players, there were three--James Johnson, Andre Jackson and Steve Gill--who came through to key the Dolphin victory.
With just over a minute left in the first quarter, Chadwick led, 15-10.
Then, in less than two minutes, Jackson scored seven points, converting both ends of a one-and-one free-throw situation, connecting on a short jumper on which he was fouled, then making the free throw, and putting in an offensive rebound to give the Dolphins a 22-12 lead.
Crossroads never got closer than nine points until midway through the fourth quarter, when the Roadrunners switched from their full-court zone press to a man-to-man press.
This tended to disrupt Chadwick, and when Crossroads' junior guard Marc Rudolph sank three straight outside jumpers and Chris Brown made two free throws, the Roadrunners had cut the margin to 52-46 with five minutes left.
Brown got Crossroads within four, 54-50, with just over two minutes remaining, but then Chadwick's Andre Jackson took over.
First, Jackson made a short jumper with 2:03 left. Thirty seconds later he scored on a soft, 12-foot jumper. After Crossroads' Rudolph hit from outside to cut the margin to 58-52, Jackson made a layup with just over a minute remaining. He closed out his offensive burst when he grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled, then converted the free throw to make it 63-52 with just under a minute to play.
Crossroads applied a relentless, full-court zone press much of the game. But owing primarily to the play of Gill, Chadwick's 5-10 senior guard, the Dolphins were able to break the press and neutralize one of the Roadrunners' most effective weapons. Gill finished with six points and a game-high seven assists.
Chadwick's man-to-man defense also limited Crossroads, which was shooting 54% from the field for the season, to 31% shooting. Crossroads made only 24 of 74 shots.
Jackson led Chadwick in scoring with 17 points and had eight rebounds. Jeremy Kaufman and Terry Maag each had 10 rebounds for the Dolphins.
Rudolph, who averaged 22 points for the season for Crossroads, finished with 27. Brown, a sophomore who came off the bench, led the the Roadrunners in rebounding with 10.
Earlier this season, the two teams played a game somewhat similar to this one and Chadwick won, 59-57.
Chadwick, which last won a title in 1980, finished the season at 26-2. Crossroads, which has won two 1-A titles and finished runner-up twice in the last four years, closed out with a 19-9 record.