Talent counts for a lot in high school basketball, but championship teams need something extra.
Senior guard Kristi Lattin said team chemistry made the biggest difference in Crenshaw's best season ever in girls basketball.
"There was a lot of pressure, but everybody got along on and off the court," said Lattin, the Southern Pacific Conference's most valuable player. "In the past, there was selfishness, but we have love for each other we discovered at the beginning of the season. We just got better and better."
Crenshaw set several school benchmarks: a third consecutive City 4A title (tying the City record); a best-ever 29-1 record; a second-round appearance in last week's Southern Regional State championships, the furthest the Cougar girls have gone.
The City title was the fourth for Crenshaw, which won the 3-A title in 1985. The Cougars advanced to the semifinals before suffering a 72-57 defeat on Thursday night to Mater Dei, which played Clovis West for the Division I regional title Saturday.
In winning its third straight City title, Crenshaw joins Locke, which won titles from 1983-85, and Washington, which won four championships between 1989-92, as the only schools to achieve the milestone.
"We set our goals real high but we took one step at a time, first league and then City," junior guard Devon King said. "We never really thought about our record."
Crenshaw's record over the past three seasons, however, has gone unmatched by any other City team. The Cougars have suffered only two losses against City opponents and won 76 of their past 86 games.
"Talent-wise and pound for pound, I think Washington and Crenshaw are pretty equal--but they find a way to win," Washington Coach Julie Rousseau said. "The Crenshaw reputation gives them an edge and they've proven it. In a game that is 80% mental, it's a big difference."
Coach Greg Cobbs was anything but mentally secure about the City title game. It was Crenshaw's fourth game against Washington in the same season, a prospect that no coach likes. But Crenshaw defeated Washington for the fourth time, 56-46, in the 4-A championship at Cal State Dominguez Hills on March 4.
"I hated playing Washington three times; they're a good team," said Cobbs, who co-coaches the team along with Marian Flowers and Major Dennis. "Four times is ridiculous. To beat any team four times is almost impossible. The odds are against you. I never want to do it again."
Depth helped the Cougars. Five players averaged in double figures led by Lattin (23.7) and sophomore center Naila Moseley (21.1, 11. 4 rebounds.) King averaged 11 points and seniors Sommer Tillett and Bridget Jemison contributed 10 points per game each.
Moseley scored 81 points in the four City playoff games, Lattin 61. Lattin, who is being recruited by Xavier, Nevada, Arizona State and Texas-El Paso, had 16 points and 13 rebounds in the title game.