Crenshaw High School paid back a yearlong debt it owed to Manual Arts Saturday night, defeating the Toilers for the second time in eight days, 84-72, to win the Southern Regional Division I basketball championship before a crowd of 4,000 at the Sports Arena.
Last season, Crenshaw defeated Manual Arts for the City 4-A Division championship, then lost to the Toilers in the Southern Regional final.
A week ago, Crenshaw repeated as City champion with an 85-72 victory over the Toilers.
Manual Arts, the defending State champion, was hoping for a repeat of last season, but it was not to be.
Crenshaw seniors Terry Cannon, who scored 23 points, and Donald Smith, who finished with 18, made sure that it was the Cougars who made it to Saturday’s State championship game at the Oakland Coliseum.
In a game that heated up in the second half, with the Toilers constantly rallying after key Crenshaw baskets, the Cougars just had too much offense in the end.
Crenshaw outscored the Toilers, 14-2, in the last minute of the fourth quarter to give Coach Willie West a chance to win his fourth State title.
Crenshaw led at halftime, 39-34, with Cannon leading the way with 15 points and Smith adding eight.
The Cougars started the game fast, running off to an 8-2 lead, with Cannon scoring on two drives through Toiler defenders.
Guard Vince Langston also caused problems for the Toilers, with penetration drives for easy Cougar layups.
Reserve guard John Jackson provided a spark for Toilers with six points, as Manual Arts closed to end the first quarter seven points down at 19-12.
Manual Arts quickly move to within three points at the start of the second quarter, with forward Charlo Davis and guard Marcell Capers scoring baskets.
The Toilers’ pressure defense proved effective, as they tied the score with 1:12 left in the quarter, before Crenshaw reserve forward Gilbert Myvette made a spectacular block of a layup by Davis and then answered with a three-point play on the Cougar offensive end.
In the second half, Crenshaw’s big men neutralized the Toilers’ inside strength. Center Danny Griffin, who scored a career-high 35 against Fresno Edison last Thursday, scored nine points, including two inspiring dunks in the third quarter.
“Dunks definitely pump the team up,” said Griffin, who is headed for the University of Pittsburgh. “We knew Manual would play harder than they did last time.”
Manual Arts was led by Capers, who scored 17 points. Davis and Kent Bennett added 14 apiece.