Fairfax High School dispelled the notion that it is a one-man team Tuesday night with a 66-50 win over St. Anthony in the first round of the Tournament of Champions at Cal Poly Pomona's Kellogg Gymnasium.
Most of the pre-tournament publicity concerning the Lions has been centered on junior forward Sean Higgins, rated as one of the top underclassmen in the nation.
Higgins came into the game having scored 99 points in four Fairfax victories and shooting 68% from the field. He put on a good show for a host of coaches and scouts against St. Anthony with 24 points, making 11 of 15 shots from long range.
But sophomore forward Chris Mills and Santa Monica transfer J.D. Green also were impressive as the Lions improved their record to 5-0. Green finished with 16 points and made 7 of 11 shot attempts. Mills had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
"It was one of our better performances of the season," Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said. "We have a lot of talented players on our squad, and it was evident tonight."
But it is obvious that Higgins is the most talented player on the team, and the best player in the tournament. At 6-8, he has the size to shoot over any defender and the ability to score from a range of up to 25 feet.
"Higgins is good, but he's not the only good player on that team," St. Anthony Coach Danny Marques said. "They have size, depth and will be tough to beat here."
Dominguez Coach Ernie Carr, whose team will meet Fairfax in the second round at 7 on Thursday night, was asked how he planned to defend against Higgins.
"I'll probably have Eric Washington guard him," Carr said. "It really doesn't matter who you put on Higgins because he'll shoot over anyone with his size. There's nobody here who can match up with him."
Dominguez advanced to the second round with a 50-45 win over Morningside. The Dons (4-2) outscored Morningside, 14-0, to open the second half as Morningside went 5:07 without scoring a field goal.
In other first-round action, Inglewood made three free throws in the final 51 seconds and held on for a 47-46 win over Long Beach Poly.
The Sentinels built a 47-44 lead as Stacy Anderson and James Bowens made clutch free throws. But Poly cut the lead to 47-46 with 18 seconds remaining after Michael Herring hit a baseline jump shot. The Jackrabbits had an opportunity to win following an Inglewood turnover.
The Jackrabbits called a timeout with eight seconds remaining. When play resumed, Herring passed the ball inside the key to teammate Roy Wade, but Wade missed a turnaround jump shot as the buzzer sounded.
In Tuesday night's final game, Santa Ana Mater Dei defeated L.A. Banning, 44-30, the Monarchs' 35th consecutive victory over two seasons.