St. Francis basketball works extra to gain victory

PASADENA — Deadlocked following 32 minutes of regulation, Noah Willerford and Evan Crawford stepped on to the court confident entering the four-minute overtime session.

Though exhausted, the St. Francis High basketball players each looked to make a major contribution while working a few extra minutes.

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It worked out for the best for the duo, as Willerford made two three-pointers and Crawford converted on a pair of free throws to spark St. Francis to a 66-61 overtime victory against Campbell Hall on Monday in a Martin Luther King Showdown contest at La Salle High.

"We felt like we were with them the whole game," said Willerford, a senior guard/forward who made two three-point shots in a row in overtime to help the Golden Knights improve to 12-6. "We had a lot of confidence going into overtime.

"I had confidence in myself that I could make some shots in overtime. It's a good win for us and can boost our confidence."

With the score tied at 58 entering overtime, St. Francis then outscored Campbell Hall, 8-3.

Willerford got things started by making his first three-pointer with 3:30 remaining to give the Golden Knights a 61-58 advantage. He then made another three-pointer to give the Golden Knights a 64-61 lead with 1:32 to go. Willerford finished the contest with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Crawford played a big part in the second half and overtime for St. Francis, which received a team-high 24 points from junior guard Kyle Leufroy.

Crawford, who had three rebounds in overtime and sealed the victory by making a pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left, said the Golden Knights showed resiliency against a Campbell Hall team that featured junior guard Aaron Holiday, the younger brother of Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans and formerly of UCLA.

"I think we had momentum going into the fourth quarter and then the overtime," said Crawford, a senior guard/forward who notched 13 points (eight in the fourth quarter) and 10 rebounds. "That's a great team that we were playing and to come back like that was great.

"I thought we did a great job on Aaron in the overtime."

Holiday finished with a game-high 25 points for Vikings, who dropped to 8-10. He converted on a three-point play to tie it at 61 with 1:47 left in overtime.

St. Francis co-Coach Ray O'Brien said the Golden Knights found a way to prevail Monday after playing Mission League rivals Harvard-Westlake, Crespi and Loyola last week.

"This was kind of like a playoff game," said O'Brien, whose team held a 37-34 halftime advantage. "It was a good atmosphere against one of the top teams in the area.

"We felt like we had a bunch of resilient guys going into overtime. We executed on some of our shots and we played much better defense."

Crawford scored on a reverse layup to knot it at 53 with 6:43 left in the first quarter. He then made a three-point bank shot to make it 58-58 with 1:29 to play in regulation.

Leufroy, a reigning All-Area pick, had 17 first-half points. He had three three-pointers, all in the first half, including one that gave the Golden Knights a 29-28 lead with 3:33 left in second quarter.

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