State

MC boys capture 10th straight title

SACRAMENTO -- All eyes were on Reeves Nelson, the UCLA-bound power forward who has dazzled friends and foes alike the past four years.

And he didn't disappoint.

Nelson used his 6-foot-8-inch frame to full advantage, rattling the rim with four dunks, hitting three twisting layups in traffic, swatting three ill- advised shots into the seats -- and hitting a sweet 3-pointer.

Just another day at Arco Arena for Nelson and the Crusaders, who routed top-seeded Christian Brothers 92-63 for a record 10th consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section crown.

Nelson still has some ball to play. MC opens the Northern California playoffs Tuesday at home, but Saturday's victory marked the end of an era.

He is the section's No. 3 all-time playoff scorer and holds single-game and single-tournament scoring records, too.

He did all this while never losing a section playoff game, going 16-0 to win four titles.

Except for a moment of celebration, however, you would never have realized what Nelson and MC had just done.

"Winning section is great, but our goal from the start of the season has been getting to state and winning," said Isaiah Burse, who ran the point and had 16 points, five assists and six steals. "This is leading us to something special."

The Crusaders know how difficult it is to get to the state final -- they've fallen a game short the last three seasons, losing in the NorCal final.

They appear to be ready for another run after dominating the Falcons (21-7), a club section officials had seeded far ahead of the No. 6 Crusaders.

Nelson had 22 points and a championship-game record 19 rebounds, but was just part of the story as the Crusaders outplayed CB at every spot:

Burse's daring defense and quick first step off the dribble so unnerved CB's Martin Harris that the Falcons sat their point guard during much of the second half.

Johnny Hutton, a husky 6-4 forward, had no equal in the frontcourt as he scored 22 points -- 17 in the first half, when MC began to pull away.

Guard Lio Prophete continued his late-season run by scoring nine points and helping force CB into a 21-of-72 performance form the floor.

Swingman Marcus Butler helped force 22 turnovers.

When they took a breather, the Crusaders' bench was able to maintain the frenetic pace at both ends of the court.

"We're banking we're in better condition than they are," said Porter, explaining MC's unrelenting pressure. "We've also got a very deep bench."

Being able to shuttle fresh players in and out also played a role in MC shooting 52 percent (34 of 65) from the floor.

Reeves was an example, hitting 9 of 10 shots. His presence, and the defensive attention it demanded, created opportunities on the perimeter for Hutton and Burse. Those two combined for 30 points in the first two quarters as MC built a 48-30 halftime lead.

MC led 25-23 in the second quarter, but blitzed the Falcons 23-7 over the final seven minutes. That included a 10-1 run in the final 90 seconds.

Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at restrada@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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