What a difference a year has made in the Crossroads boys’ basketball program.
Crossroads was 4-19 last season with freshmen playing some key roles. Many of the same players have benefited from having more experience, and the Roadrunners have begun the current season with seven wins in their first eight games.
Crossroads won the Buckley tournament by winning four games, including an 83-77 victory over Buckley in the championship game. There were also wins over Delphi Academy (77-46), Discovery Prep (88-39) and Village Christian (87-60).
The Buckley Tournament MVP was 6-foot-3 senior Michael Ojo, who scored 27, 24, 25 and 33 points. Two other Roadrunners, Chris Allen and freshman Meric Lagorce-Ross, were named to the all-tournament team.
The Roadrunners’ tallest player is 6-foot-6 Conrad Liebowitz, a sophomore showing steady improvement.
“He’s had to go up against some talented senior centers and he’s getting valuable experience,” said first-year coach Kevin Brown, who came to Crossroads after serving as an assistant at several Division 1 schools and then last season at Santa Monica College.
Brown replaced Daryl Roper, who resigned after 15 usually-successful seasons, and began instilling confidence in the young players during summer league games.
“The summer was important,” said Brown. “Our players were told we need contributions from all 12 of them and we need to be hungry for rebounds. And on offense we need to share the ball.”
Crossroads finished second in the Beverly Hills Tournament last week, losing to Thousand Oaks in the championship game, 78-64, after winning three games. The wins were over Daniel Murphy (78-39), Orange Lutheran (74-71 in overtime) and West Torrance (76-67).
The title game was tied, 60-60, with three minutes left. Thousand Oaks then made a stretch of free throws.
In the game against West Torrance, Crossroads overcame a 16-point third quarter deficit and outscored West Torrance in the fourth quarter, 28-8.
“We went small with a pressing defense and got a lift from Brandon Williamson and Josh Ingram,” said Brown.
Ojo, Allen and Lagorce-Ross again made all-tournament.
After hosting Pacific Hills and New Roads in non-league games earlier this week, Crossroads will play San Diego powerhouse Crawford High Friday, December 15, at Pepperdine. Three Crawford players have committed to play for Pepperdine next season.
In other Westside boys basketball action:
Santa Monica High finished fifth in the Redondo Tournament and won the El Segundo Tournament. Samohi has defeated Long Beach Poly, 58-54, lost to Mayfair, 65-45, beat Inglewood in an Ocean League game, 65-53, and got past Bishop Montgomery, 64-57, in the championship game at El Segundo on the way to a 7-1 record.
Guard Bryan Louff was the El Segundo Tournament MVP. Leo Arnold scored 18 points in the final game.
St. Monica got off to a 2-2 start with an 80-59 loss to Whittier Christian, a 46-45 win over Calvary Chapel, a 61-43 win over Sage Hill and a 64-58 loss to Windward.
Ryan Zelig and Bryce Hamaguchi each scored 15 points against Windward and Brandon Miller had seven rebounds.
Venice High lost to Troy of Fullerton, 67-53, in the Pasadena High Tournament.
In girls’ games:
Santa Monica High is 4-1 after defeating Channel Islands, 57-39, and Calabasas, 65-33, losing to Newbury Park, 57-50, and coming back with a 56-48 win over Chaminade and a 67-57 win over Bishop Montgomery.
Katy Keating was the leading scorer against Bishop Montgomery with 20 points.
Venice, which has a 2-3 record, lost to Los Osos High, 70-41.