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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL BEVERLY HILLS TOURNAMENT : Crespi Survives 4th-Quarter Slump to Upend Royal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

If basketball games lasted only three quarters, Crespi Coach Chris Nikchevich might be a enjoying a 5-1 season instead of waking to a 2-4 record this morning.

In keeping with a season-long trend, the Celts were outscored in the fourth quarter Thursday for the sixth consecutive time. But this time Crespi escaped with a 65-55 win over Royal in a consolation quarterfinal of the Beverly Hills tournament.

“We’ve been giving games away, literally,” Nikchevich said. “In the fourth quarter we just get outscored. We’re just lucky we came out with a win this time.”

Crespi led, 54-34, after three quarters, but let Royal back into the game in the fourth.

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Royal (1-4) reeled off nine unanswered points--six by Brett Osterhoudt--to start the final quarter, and closed to 59-50 on Steve Hodge’s layup with one minute remaining. Crespi went without a point for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

But a seven-for-seven performance at the line helped Crespi preserve the victory. In the game’s final minute, Rob Leff hit both ends of a one and one and Charles Aghajanian converted four free throws to stave off Royal.

“When it comes down to the fourth quarter, we’re playing awfully scared and it’s killing us,” Nikchevich said. “It’s something we have to turn around right away, especially before league.”

Crespi will face Mission League rival Notre Dame in the consolation semifinals today at 4 p.m. That game should give both schools an idea how they’ll fare in Mission League play because the Celts and Knights also meet in a league opener Jan. 3.

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Leff got a hot hand in the third quarter and scored 12 of his 16 points to help the Celts build a 20-point lead.

Senior Randy Coleman played consistently throughout and finished with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Osterhoudt and Hodge each scored 15 points for Royal, which has lost four straight games.

In other consolation quarterfinals:

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Rio Mesa 63, Westlake 59--John Guillen scored his only two points of the game on a 15-foot jump shot with 15 seconds remaining to clinch the win.

Jason MacLean scored a team-high 15 points for Rio Mesa. Westlake’s Joey Leavitt scored a game-high 28 points.

Buena 75, Redondo 64--Lance Fay scored 21 points to lead Buena (3-2). Nick Houchin had 17 points and Jeff Dunn added 15 for Buena, which will play Rio Mesa in a semifinal today at 2:30 p.m.


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