St. Francis basketball reaches title contest

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — With plenty of depth on its roster, there are multiple go-to options that exist for the St. Francis High basketball team.

Among those is junior guard Evan Crawford, who has excelled on both sides of the court for the Golden Knights during the first two weeks of the season.

Crawford provided another example Friday night, as he contributed 11 points and three steals to lead St. Francis to a 48-35 pool-play win against Bonita in the La Cañada Holiday Classic at La Cañada High.

St. Francis (7-0) will meet Hart at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the tournament’s championship game. A victory would give the Golden Knights their second tournament win of the season.

“I go out there and do whatever I can,” said Crawford, who added seven rebounds and four assists. “The defense is the big part of it, but if they ask me to score, then I’ll try to score.

“You have to be ready to go out there and assert yourself.”

Crawford finished with six second-half points for the Golden Knights, who won the Paul Sutton Tip-Off Classic at Providence High on Dec. 1.

St. Francis co-Coach Ray O’Brien, whose team previously recorded tournament victories against Glendale and Marina, said Crawford jump started the Golden Knights on Friday.

“Evan has always been the leader of the team,” said O’Brien, who received 12 points from junior forward Noah Willerford and eight from sophomore guard Kyle Leufroy. “When it’s crunch time, he’ll be able to do it.

“His defense has been great and he doesn’t turn the ball over.”

Crawford recorded a steal and made a nifty pass to Leufroy, who scored on a layup to give St. Francis a 39-24 with 6:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Bonita (6-3) got 13 points and 12 rebounds from forward Dane Hollar. A three-pointer by Hollar gave Bonita an 11-10 lead with 3:41 to go in the first quarter.

Crawford gave St. Francis a 23-15 lead on a layup with 4:44 left in the second quarter. Willerford then made a three-pointer to make it 29-18 with 46 seconds remaining in the first half.

St. Francis made seven three-pointers, including two apiece from Leufroy and Philip Little.

O’Brien said the Golden Knights expect a tough test from Hart (8-0).

“They have a very good team,” said O’Brien, who got a pair of blocks from sophomore forward Markar Agakanian. “We can go 10 deep and keep our players fresh.”

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