“Dennis [Alshuler, an All-CIF Southern Section standout who anchored the Sea Kings on their way to the section Division III-A title game in 1999, losing to Chaminade at what then was the Arrowhead Pond] was the X Factor,” quipped Class of 1999 player Jim Davenport.
Davenport’s comment, which quickly prompted some good-natured piling on by some teammates, was a reference to Alshuler not playing in the tournament for the first time in years. Alshuler, who went on to play volleyball at Princeton and was attending a wedding Saturday, had, his classmates theorized in jest, managed to slow them down in past years.
“We were a lot quicker [Saturday] without him,” said Nate Lemmerman, known more for his exploits in football and baseball than basketball at CdM.
But while the 1999 unit lacked Alshuler, as well as former star Kevin Hansen, who will be playing for the U.S. men’s volleyball team at the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, China, the tournament champions received plenty of leadership from Brandon Crosby, who was arguably the tournament’s best player.
Crosby, who played football at Saddleback College and at NAIA member Baker University in Kansas after not playing varsity football at CdM, was a consistent force in the backcourt for the 1999 squad. He scored 19 points in the title game, mostly on slashing drives or converting layups after steals.
His scoring prowess in other games prompted one team to use a box-and-one defensive scheme on him.
“I was shooting really well earlier in the day,” said Crosby, who cited chemistry as a big reason for his team’s success. Crosby, who plays in an organized league once a week, said he and his teammates had also been brushing up their skills prior to the event.