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Manual Arts Earns Return to Final

From Staff Reports

Manual Arts held off a late charge by Crenshaw to win, 80-78, in a boys’ basketball City Section Championship division semifinal Saturday night at Southwest College.

Johnny Hardwick made three of four free throws and scored five of his 14 points in the final 1 minute 30 seconds to help seal the victory for the Toilers, who lost to Westchester in the championship game last season.

“Johnny played the game of his life,” Manual Arts Coach Randolph Simpson said of his 6-foot-10 senior center, who also had 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Manual Arts (26-3) will play top-seeded Fairfax--a 72-68 winner in overtime against defending champion Westchester--in the City Championship game next Friday at Pauley Pavilion.

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Crenshaw finished 26-6.

Manual Arts point guard James Wright, who has signed with Long Beach State, had 18 points and seven assists and teammate Brandon Moorer had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Toilers, who built a 14-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.

“But I told the guys that Crenshaw would give us one last push,” Simpson said.

Crenshaw Coach Willie West was back on the bench after missing the Cougars’ quarterfinal victory over Sylmar to attend his father’s funeral, and he watched his team nearly pull off the big comeback.

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Junior forward Tommy Johnson (23 points) and guards Jonathan Stokes (15 points) and E.J. Harris (12 points) keyed a 14-1 run over a three-minute span that pulled Crenshaw to within, 72-71, with 1:45 remaining.

But Stokes’ layup to culminate the run was the final field goal Crenshaw would make and the rally came up two points shy after Lloyd Brewer made a three-pointer as time expired.


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