In what has become a very important basketball game for Fairfax High School, Coach Harvey Kitani takes his 10-4 Lions (2-2 in Valley League) to Hamilton to face the Yankees at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"It's a big game for both schools," said Kitani. "I don't believe if you're going to contend for the league championship you can have more than two losses."
Kitani said the season is young and there is time for his team to turn it around and capture the league title. "We will just have to move on and work hard to improve," Kitani said.
Fairfax will be facing a very quick team in the Yankees, whom Kitani describes as scrappy. "Our team is very young. If we don't prepare mentally for each opponent, then the game could go either way."
Kitani hopes that Chris Mills, the team's best rebounder and second-leading scorer, is prepared mentally--and physically. Mills went down with a severe ankle injury in practice last week and was sorely missed during Fairfax's 81-80 overtime loss to Cleveland. Kitani said Mills should be ready for Hamilton.
Kitani wants his team to show more patience with its offense and take better shots against Hamilton, something he said they didn't do against Cleveland.
"Cleveland shot very well, but we didn't execute our offense as well as we should have, and we weren't as patient with our shot selection, and because of that we had poor rebounding positioning," he said.
For the Lions, Sean Higgins is averaging 22 points and 7 rebounds a game and Mills 18.5 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Westchester vs. Palisades
Palisades Coach Jerry Marvin, whose Dolphins were 11-1 overall as the week began (1-0 in Central League), will play host to the Westchester Comets at 8 p.m. Friday in what promises to be a match between different styles of play: the speedy Comets versus the deliberate Dolphins.
"Westchester has a very quick press, and they have one of the best players in the City in (6-5 forward Michael) Courtney," Marvin said. "They're probably the quickest team in the league."
Marvin cites his team's lack of speed as a glaring weakness, but he hopes to counter the Comets' speed with size, depth and rebounding. Marvin is also anxiously awaiting the return of point guard Cornell Rucker, who has been academically ineligible.
He said he could have used Rucker's steady play in his team's 81-52 win over Washington. Despite the lopsided score, he said, "We didn't play very well; our kids were very tight."
The game was closer than the score indicated, and it wasn't until the third quarter that the Dolphins put Washington away with a 47-18 spurt.
Despite the Dolphins' shaky first-half play, Marvin praised 6-10 center Derek Strong, 6-7 forward Victor Malbrough and guard Perry Plattus. In 10 games, Strong was averaging 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds and Malbrough 11.5 points and 4.2 rebounds.