ENCINO -- This one was practically over before it even started.
The Crespi High boys' basketball team jumped out to a particularly comfortable 14-point advantage over visiting Lakewood Artesia by the end of the first quarter during Tuesday's Southern Section Division 3A quarterfinal playoff game.
The lead ballooned to 22 points by halftime, 27 in the third quarter and approached the 30-point plateau over the course of the final eight minutes of play.
In the fourth quarter, seemingly the only thing left to do for the Celts was to send their starters to the bench for some rest and let the reserves run out the rest of the clock, which they did, of course, en route to an impressive 70-42 victory
“We came out and dominated, we needed a win like this, we made a statement and let everyone know that we're for real,'' said Crespi's London Perrantes.
The second-seeded Celts (23-7) are indeed for real.
Count Artesia (14-14) as a believer.
“We came into this game tonight knowing that Crespi was tough team, there's a reason why they were the No. 2 seed,'' Artesia coach Greg Taylor said. “We needed a lot of things to go our way if we were going to have a chance to win and that didn't happen.''
Perrantes came out and played with a sense of urgency early on. In doing so, the 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard answered any, and all, lingering questions about whether he was recovered from an injury, a fractured right fibula suffered early this season.
He handed out a number of assists to Matt Mournier, Reggie Coates and Kenny Stenhouse to give the Celts a 20-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. More of Perrantes handing out well-placed passes to his wide-open teammates. His dish to Mournier for a perimeter jumper helped Crespi maintain a 10-point lead with 4:30 remaining in the first half of play.
Minutes later, Michael Milligan got in on the act for Crespi. He stole the ball at halfcourt and dunked over Patrick Hart at the other end to give his team a 27-16 lead at the 3:10 mark. Accordingly, the Celts fed off the momentum the rest of the half.
Mournier buried a three-pointer, assist to Perrantes, just before the second quarter buzzer sounded to extend the advantage to 38-16 at intermission.
“After the first four minutes, I knew that we were the better team, but I was not going to stop pushing the kids out there,'' Celts coach Russell White said.
Crespi did not appear to be satisfied with its double digit lead in the second half. Perrantes, Coates, Mournier and Stenhouse converted layups, and before the Pioneers knew what had hit them, they trailed, 60-33, at the end of the third quarter.
The starters headed to the bench for good with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. Mournier finished with a game-high 16 points to increase his all-time total to 1,221, second most in the program's history. Andrew Moore is first with 1,290 points.
Coates finished with 11 points and Stenhouse added eight. And when all was said and done, Perrantes ended up with six points and seven assists.
Micah Kahawaii and James Floyd did their best to keep the score somewhat respectable for Aretsia. The tandem combined for 15 points.
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.