When Crossroads placed the Redondo Pacific Shores and Beverly Hills Tournaments on its boys basketball schedule this season, Coach Kevin Jackson believed he’d have talent able to compete with strong fields. Four Roadrunner players gained the attention of college scouts a year ago. Now, in addition to their skills, they’d have experience.
“I didn’t know we’d be in those tournaments without two of them,” Jackson said after the Roadrunners lost to Santa Monica and Crespi. Earlier in the season Crossroads had lost to a powerhouse Loyola High team.
Before the season began Merrick Ross, a skilled 6-foot-4 guard, transferred to a prep school in Florida.
Just as the season began, Crossroads forward Robert Allen transferred to Centennial High in Compton. In addition, guard Daniel Sussman tore ligaments in a thumb playing flag football and hasn’t been available. It’s expected that he’ll be able to play later in the season.
Crossroads still has two big men who are likely to receive college basketball scholarships. Conrad Liebowitz is averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds. Solomon Hianni is producing 15 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots per game.
But getting the ball upcourt has been a problem for the Roadrunners. “We’re in games for awhile but then we become vulnerable to a pressing defense,” said Jackson. “Santa Monica pressed us and had the depth to do it. They substituted three players at a time and wore us out. After that happened, the scouting reports went around and it became known that’s the way to play us.
“We were even with a good Crespi team at halftime but they did the same thing in the second half. I think we’ll learn from the experiences and our guards will improve, hopefully in time for the Olympic League season.”
Santa Monica defeated Crossroads 61-43 by forcing 37 turnovers. Against Crespi, Crossroads was tied when it turned the ball over six straight times in the second half.
Crossroads lost another game when it fell behind Palos Verdes by 30 points, rallied to take the lead, then missed several free throws near the finish.
The Roadrunners did defeat Redondo and had an 81-32 rout of New Roads.
Crossroads made the playoffs a year ago with a late season charge. Jackson is hoping the team will overcome a 2-5 start to the current season the same way.