It is safe to say that Crenshaw High School has dominated California boys’ basketball in the 1980s. In defeating Oakland Skyline, 70-63, at the Oakland Coliseum March 18, the Cougars won their fourth Division I state title in seven years, and their third in the last five.
Crenshaw also tied Stockton, which won four titles in the 1920s, for the most state championships. Crenshaw is the only school to win more than one title since the state championships were reinstated in 1981, after a 53-year interruption.
Of the four state championship teams coached by Crenshaw Coach Willie West, this one had the toughest time getting there.
This was supposed to be a down year, as the Cougars were rated no higher than fourth in preseason polls.
However, as Manual Arts Coach Randolph Simpson said: “Crenshaw does not rebuild, it just reloads.”
One player who emerged this season was 6-foot-1 senior guard Terry Cannon, the City 4-A Division player of the year. Cannon slowly became one of the most dominating players in the state.
“I had a pretty progressive season, considering my role on last year’s team,” said Cannon, who led the Cougars with 21 points against Skyline. “Last season, I saw considerable playing time, up until the City playoffs started.”
Cannon’s emergence did not come as a surprise to West. “We always knew Terry had the ability,” West said. “Last year, he was just not very consistent.”
Cannon turned out to be very reliable this season, showing great awareness and the ability to score from anywhere. He led the Cougars in scoring with a 20.8 points a game average.
Despite his efforts, he has not received the amount of attention as past Crenshaw stars such as John Williams of the Washington Bullets and Stephen Thompson of Syracuse.
Even during the season, Cannon was overshadowed by other city players.
“I can understand the reason why I have not received more publicity,” Cannon said. “I had to spend my summer working to help out my family financially, while others played in (all-star) camps and summer leagues. I just worked out hard in my available time to improve on my fundamentals.”
Cannon’s work paid off. He was the top-scorer for the Cougars in the playoffs. In their City quarterfinal victory over Westchester, he scored 23 points; in the City final against Manual Arts, he had 30; in the State semifinal against Manual Arts, he had 23 and scored 21 against Skyline.
Cannon has not decided which school he will attend next season, but said he would like to stay in California, near his family.
“Boise State (Idaho) and San Antonio University seem the most interested, with a few others, like Pepperdine, showing a little interest,” Cannon said.
Hawthorne High’s boys’ track team already has run impressive sprint relay marks this track season, breaking one national record and coming close on another.
The Cougars set a national high school indoor 880-yard relay record three weeks ago at the National High School Championships at Annapolis, Md., running 1:28.25, with a team of junior Chris Alexander (22.9 split), junior Anthony Smith (21.6), sophomore Erik Allen (22.2) and senior Curtis Conway (21.5). They broke the mark of 1:29.1, set in 1975 by Ferguson High of Newport News, Va.
Hawthorne has also started fast outdoors, running 40.66 in the 400-meter relay at the Pasadena Games at Occidental College last Saturday. Its performance was just two hundredths of a second off of its state mark, 40.64, set in 1985 on the same Occidental track. The Cougars also missed breaking the national mark of 40.00 set in 1988 by Reagan High School of Austin, Tex.
The Cougars will get another chance at the 400-meter relay record at the Arcadia Invitational track meet April 8.
Conway, the Cougars’ top runner, will be in the spotlight at the Arcadia meet, he is expected to run in the open 100 and 200 meters, and anchor the Cougars’ 400 and 1,600-meter relay teams.
Conway, who signed to attend USC on a football scholarship as a quarterback, will face tough competition from Barry Smith of San Francisco Mission, who has the best returning 100-meter time in the state.
In the girls’ 100 and 200 meters, Angela Burnham of Oxnard Rio Mesa, 1988 national high school track athlete of the year, will meet Inger Miller of Pasadena Muir.
Miller, who is only a junior, is fast becoming one of the top sprinters in the nation. She ran 23.62 in the 200-meters, fastest time in the nation this season, at the Pasadena Games, and defeated Burnham at the Northridge Relays two weeks ago in the 100 meters.
Dion Bently of Pittsburgh Penn Hills, the national indoor high school record holder in the long jump, is also entered in the Arcadia meet. He has jumped 26-6 1/2.
Los Angeles Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will honor the local basketball teams which won City and Southern Section titles April 20 at the Hall of Administration at 11 a.m. The Crenshaw High School and Fremont boys’ teams will be honored, along with the Washington and Inglewood Morningside girls’ teams. . . . Tracy Murray of Glendora and Mitchell Butler of Oakwood High in North Hollywood will play in the 12th Annual McDonald’s All-American high school basketball game April 23 in Kansas City.
Murray and Lisa Leslie of Morningside were named state players of the year last Friday by California Basketball Magazine. Murray was named the outstanding male player while Leslie, a 6-5 junior, was tabbed the outstanding female player. . . . Joining Murray on the boys’ first team are Butler; Ed O’Bannon, a 6-9 junior from Artesia, and Harold Miner, a 6-5 senior from Inglewood. . . . Second-team selections are Kent Bennett of Manual Arts, Zan Mason of Westchester, Ed Stokes of St. Bernard, Terry Cannon of Crenshaw and Dedan Thomas of Woodland Hills Taft. . . . Brian Camper of Lakewood and Brian Russell of San Bernardino were named to the third team.
Joining Leslie on the girls’ first team are Linda Watson, a 5-9 junior from Lynwood. Joni Easterly of Anaheim Katella, Kim Gessig of Upland and Tami Adkins of Oxnard Santa Clara made second-team. Local third-team choices are Danielle Carter of Fontana, Heather Burge and Heidi Burge of Palos Verdes, and JoJo Witherspoon of Morningside.
With the basketball letters-of-intent signing period beginning April 12, 48 unsigned-high school seniors in the state will get one last chance to impress college scouts April 9 at the Pump Discovery game, starting at 1 p.m. at Valley College in Van Nuys. Top area players expected to participate include: Cannon, Cornelius Banks, Vince (Chico) Langston, Pat Sanders, Donald Smith, Nique Stewart and Gilbert Myvette of Crenshaw; Emile Bigelow and Kahari Jackson of Los Angeles; Bennett and Charlo Davis of Manual Arts; Jay Horton of San Pedro; Johnny Johnson and Alvin Brown of Granada Hills; Mark Raveling of Playa del Rey St. Bernard and Tyrone Phillips of Fremont.