The McDonald’s All-American Game announced players selected to the game earlier this week, and there were none from Southern California. Brandon Williams of Encino Crespi took no offense. He missed all of last season because of a knee injury.
Anyone who has seen him play in recent weeks, however, would tell you that there are few high school guards in America playing better than him. He scored 37 points on Wednesday night, the seventh time in his last eight games he has exceeded the 30-point mark.
He rose up in the second half to lead Crespi to a 78-68 win over Studio City Harvard-Westlake, making the Celts 19-2 overall and 6-0 in the Mission League. Harvard-Westlake dropped to 16-3 and 4-1.
“A whole year not playing is hurtful,” said Williams, who signed non-binding scholarship papers with Arizona. “I wanted to make sure that people didn’t forget me. I wanted to show everybody what I was capable of, and people are starting to wake up.”
Williams left the game with three fouls early in the second quarter. In the third quarter, he scored 14 points. At one point, he contributed 16 of Crespi’s last 19 points. He scored 26 of his points in the second half.
Harvard-Westlake, which starts four sophomores and a freshman, had no solution for Williams’ physicality on drives. And when he wasn’t scoring, he was finding open teammates.
Crespi was able to win because others contributed in the decisive fourth quarter.
“We don’t win without them,” Crespi Coach Russell White said. “We’re trying every day not to be a one-man team.”
Taj Regans and Russell Stong each made big baskets in the fourth quarter. Regans finished with 18 points. And sophomore KC Anuluoha scrapped, clawed and hustled to keep 6-foot-10 Mason Hooks from disrupting the Celts inside.
For Harvard-Westlake, Johnny Juzang finished with 30 points and Hooks had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“He’s a college player for sure,” Harvard-Westlake Coach David Rebibo said of Williams. “Really talented, really skilled, really poised. A special kid.”
Said guard Spencer Hubbard: “He’s a great player. He hit tough shots. We tried to box-and-one him later in the game.”
Harvard-Westlake was able to take two charging fouls against Williams but once he got into his rhythm in the third quarter, he was tough to slow down.
“I think he’s stronger, quicker,” White said. “There’s a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.”
The two schools will meet again in the regular-season finale on Feb. 9 at Harvard-Westlake.