By Coach Gary Cain's own admission, the Banning High School boys basketball team will be inexperienced next season. For openers, all five starters are gone.
But if Jabari Anderson has anything to say about it Banning may be a factor come November.
Anderson, who will be a junior, sank two free throws with no time remaining Saturday morning to lift the host Pilots to a 51-49 victory over Culver City in the opening round of the L.A. Games.
Anderson, a 6-3 forward who is projected as the team's starting guard, was fouled with the clock showing no time remaining. He calmly strode to the line and sank both shots to give the Pilots the victory, and a shot at defending champion Westchester, which defeated Palos Verdes, 48-41, in the opening round.
The Pilots host Westchester today at 9 a.m. in the second round of the 22nd L.A. Games, which previews next year's high school standouts in a variety of events.
"He (Anderson) is just a 10th-grader who will be a junior when school starts, but we've already projected him as our most outstanding player," Cain said. "He's going to be a real good athlete for us."
Anderson led all scorers with 14 points, while Julio Muro tallied 13 for the Pilots.
Westchester, a small team, was missing its biggest man, 6-8 junior LeRoy Anderson, who was attending basketball camp in Long Beach, Nevertheless, the Comets played well enough to advance to the second round by beating Palos Verdes.
"We kind of had our midget lineup in there today," said Comets Coach Ed Azzam. " But we were able to jump out to a 12-point lead early and just held them off.
"But that's OK. That's what we're going to have to do this year. If we get a team in the 70's and 80's, we don't have the depth to hold them off."
In other first-round basketball action, Mira Costa beat Mayfair, 32-28. Mira Costa faces Lynwood today at noon at El Camino College.
Narbonne, Rolling Hills, Carson, Hawthorne and Morningside also advanced to today's second round action.
In baseball, Redondo Union shut out Bosco Tech, 3-0, and will host Garfield today at noon. Carson, the only other South Bay team entered in the L.A. Games baseball competition, scored an 11-6 victory over Sierra Vista. The Colts play Riverside Poly this morning at 9 at El Camino.
North Torrance served as the football venue and the Saxons used the home-field advantage to score a 12-6 first-round win over Cerritos Village Christian. North then forged a second-round, 27-13, victory over University High of Irvine to earn the right to face Santiago. Santiago, of Garden Grove, defeated Narbonne, 14-0. North hosts Santiago at 1:40 this afternoon.
The football team from West Torrance also fared well in the opening round, scoring a 16-6 victory over Bassett, before coming back in the afternoon to rout Gardena, 30-0. The Warriors face L.A. Wilson today at 12:30 p.m.
Westchester surprised defending L.A. City 4-A champion Carson, 22-21. The Comets, who advanced to the second round with a forfeit, face Rancho Alamitos of Garden Grove today at 2:45 p.m.
Morningside defeated L.A. Jordan, 25-6, and goes on to play L.A. Baptist, which defeated Palos Verdes, 7-6.
In other first round games, Redondo fell to L.A. Wilson, 18-14, and San Pedro was defeated by Granada Hills Kennedy, 21-6.
In softball, West Torrance beat Narbonne, 10-0, and Rolling Hills scored a 13-4 victory over Pioneer of Whittier.
The South Bay was well represented on the soccer field, where three boys and two girls teams advanced to today's second-round action.
In boys competition, Palos Verdes defeated Hollywood, 5-4. Palos Verdes will play Crespi of Encino, which beat Inglewood, 1-0, today at 9:45 a.m., at Granada Hills.
South Torrance downed Burbank Burroughs, 1-0, and plays Loyola today at 9:45 a.m.. San Pedro defeated, Claremont, 4-1, and faces Harvard, which defeated Leuzinger, 3-2, today at 8:30 a.m.
In girls' play, Mira Costa defeated El Segundo, 2-1, and earns the right to play Chatsworth today at 9:45 a.m. Chatsworth eliminated West Torrance, 4-1, in the preliminary round.
San Pedro downed St. Bernard, 1-0, and will face Arcadia today at 8 a.m.
Hawthorne, a 1-0 winner over Los Altos in the first round, takes on Royal of Simi Valley at 11:30 a.m., today.