Fairfax High School Coach Harvey Kitani and his star forward, Tony Thomas, received coach and player of the year honors at The Times' annual boys basketball awards ceremony this week.
The program, in Harry Chandler Auditorium at Times Mirror Square, saluted 90 prep all-stars from nine Southern California areas.
Fairfax usually has a wealth of talented basketball players. In 1978 and 1979, the Lions won consecutive Los Angeles City 3-A championships under then-Coach Steve Miller.
When Kitani, 30, took over as head coach in the 1981-82 season, Fairfax was in a rebuilding year, but he nevertheless led that team to an 11-11 season.
For the next three years, Fairfax teams have steadily progressed. The Lions won three straight Western League titles and finished with overall records of 16-10 in 1983, 17-7 last year and 25-2 this year.
In 1983, Fairfax lost by one point in the semifinals of the City 3-A playoffs and lost again in the 1984 semis. This season, Kitani's team lost its first game, 55-51, to Banning, a strong 4-A team, in December and didn't lose again till March, when Fairfax was beaten by Fresno Edison, 72-62, in a state regional playoff game at Fresno.
In between those losses, Fairfax won another 3-A City championship, defeating San Pedro, 65-61, in the title game.
Thomas, a muscular 6-5 senior forward, played a large part in that championship effort. He averaged 17.7 points and 7.2 rebounds a game and was named the most valuable player in the Western League and to the All-City tournament second team, which includes 4-A players. He was Kitani's top nominee for The Times 1985 All-Westside team.
Led in Scoring
A varsity player for three years and a starter for two, Thomas led his team in scoring last year and was an All-Western League first-team selection. Among the colleges who have recruited him this year are San Jose State, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Chapman.
Kitani, who teaches special education classes at Fairfax, is a graduate of Gardena High School and Cal State Dominguez Hills. His first coaching job was as an assistant at Banning High School and he was an assistant at Dominguez Hills.
Andy Fujitsubo, Kitani's assistant at Fairfax for the last four years, said that his boss is "well organized, a good coach of fundamentals and stresses team play. He does a good job of disciplining his players, and his guys all turn out to be pretty good people."
Fujitsubo also said that Thomas provided his team with leadership. "He goes hard in practice and sets an example for others."
At the awards ceremony, the all-star players and their guests were welcomed by Glenn Davis, The Times director of special events, and his assistant, Will Kern. Times sportswriter Don Snyder narrated the awards presentation.
Stan Morrison, who coached USC to a share of the Pacific 10 Conference title with Washington this season, was the principal speaker. Morrison presented certificates and gold hoop-and-ball plaques to players and also awarded trophies to the players and coaches of the year for each suburban section.
Members of the 1985 All-Westside team besides Thomas are Sean Higgins of Fairfax, Carlton Davenport of Santa Monica, Jason Woodruff of Culver City, Marc Rudolph of Crossroads, Eric L. Brown of Daniel Murphy, Earl Duncan of St. Monica, Stephen Mills of Hamilton, Kenny Countryman of Beverly Hills and Robert Bibbs of Venice.