Resting on the court with his tongue sticking out after making a three-point shot while being fouled, Taj Regans of Encino Crespi was feeling pretty energized in the second half on Friday night.
“I didn’t tell him to take over,” coach Russell White said. “He just did.”
Regans scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half to help the Celts (24-2) defeat Studio City Harvard-Westlake 72-63 to finish 12-0 in the Mission League.
Regans was forced to step up his offensive contributions after standout guard Brandon Williams, averaging 24.7 points, rolled his left ankle late in the first half. He sat in a chair the entire second half with the ankle wrapped in ice. He’ll likely get an X-ray on Saturday but Williams said he should be fine.
Regardless, Crespi is set to be one of the eight teams selected for the Southern Section Open Division playoffs that will be announced on Saturday.
“We’re a good team,” Regans said. “We’re good because we all can play.”
Harvard-Westlake (21-5, 9-3) played much of the game without 6-foot-10 center Mason Hooks, who had the flu. Sophomore Brase Dottin scored 23 points for the Wolverines.
The challenge ahead for the Celts will be entering a tournament with seven other elite teams.
“Bishop Montgomery is the favorite going into every game,” White said. “Etiwanda brings a defensive presence. Mater Dei is an established entity. Sierra Canyon has athletes everywhere. That being said, I’ll take our team against anyone. We have a bunch of seniors and one of the best players around.”
Harvard-Westlake (24-4) received the No. 1 seed for the Southern Section-Ford Girls Basketball Open Division playoffs that begin next Friday.
Windward (20-3) was seeded No. 2. The two teams have split two meetings this season.
Harvard-Westlake is led by Pepperdine-bound twins Jayda and Jayla Ruffus-Milner.
Windward relies on standout junior Charisma Osborne.
Other top players to watch include junior Kayla Padilla of Bishop Montgomery and Mater Dei freshman Brooke Demetre.
Harvard-Westlake will host Gardena Serra in its opener and Bishop Montgomery will play at Windward. Mater Dei, seeded No. 3, will host Ribet and No. 4 Sierra Canyon will host Etiwanda.
The semis are Feb. 24 at Cal Baptist and the final is March 2 at The Pyramid.
“Any night anyone can lose,” Harvard-Westlake coach Melissa Hearlihy said. “I don’t think anyone is that dominating anymore. There used to be days it was all Mater Dei, all Long Beach Poly, all Chaminade. There’s a lot more parity.”