Moments after the City Section 3-A Division championship basketball game ended at the Sports Arena last week, Kenyatta Niles of Monroe High sat on his team's bench, slumped in a chair with a towel draped over his head, which was cradled in his hands.
About 20 feet from him was a celebratory Banning team in a dog pile at midcourt. The picture told the story and Niles was trying desperately to deal with it.
Niles, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, had three chances to tie or beat Banning in the game's final 25 seconds. He missed two free throws, then missed a three-point basket with four seconds remaining and Banning held on to win, 59-58.
Despite being sick with the flu, Niles scored a team-high 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had eight steals and handed out five assists. He came out for rest only once--for 17 seconds.
The events of the final minute put Niles in a funk, to be sure. Marques Johnson, a close family friend who attended the game, helped bring him out of it.
At halftime, Johnson, a former UCLA All-American (1976-77) and NBA player ('78-87), encouraged Niles to take control of the team. Be a leader, he told Niles.
Johnson, who coaches a summer team that includes Niles, embraced and consoled Niles afterward. But it was the comforting words Johnson offered Niles by telephone over the weekend that he remembers most.
"He said, 'If anyone says anything to you at school, just point to your backpack because you put the team on your shoulders and carried them,' " Niles said.
VALLEY PAC-8 CONFERENCE
Grant's Rick Forscutt, a 6-foot-6 junior center, set a school record for highest field-goal shooting percentage this season. He was 73 for 107 (68.2%) from the field, beating John Brumwell's record (117 for 178, 65.7%) set during the 1981-82 season when the Lancers went 20-0 before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
Patrick Fields, a junior right-hander at North Hollywood, struck out 13 and allowed one hit in nine innings in three opening-round games of the L.A. Invitational.
After giving up an earned run and a hit in one inning against Roosevelt, Fields pitched eight scoreless, hitless innings in his next two appearances. Fields and Mike Delano combined on a no-hitter against Wilson. Two days later, Fields and Rafael Cabrera one-hit Dorsey. Fields struck out seven Dorsey batters in four innings.
Glen Carson didn't receive a hero's welcome upon returning to Notre Dame late Friday night. Not because nobody tried.
Carson scored a team-high 19 points as Notre Dame rolled to a 61-54 victory over San Dimas in the Southern Section Division III-A final at Cal Poly Pomona.
The background: Because it was a special occasion, Carson's parents rented a limousine and drove with a group of family friends to Pomona. The driver was 30 minutes late picking up the group, which was probably the first sign that something was amiss.
After the game, Carson jumped in the car for the drive home. The mood was jubilant.
The driver, however, was still a bit slow on the uptake. He had been instructed to take the car to Riverside Drive in Sherman Oaks, where the Notre Dame campus is located. Thirty minutes into the drive home, somebody in the car rolled down the partition separating the passenger and driver, and noticed a highway sign that read, in essence, "Fontana City Limits."
The driver thought the group wanted to drive to the city of Riverside. By the time Carson arrived at school, the group of fans that planned to give him a rousing greeting had left.
Is Carson the next Wally Pipp? Carson, who also plays first base and has signed to play baseball at USC, missed the Knights' opener Saturday because he was leading Notre Dame to the Division III-A basketball title the night before. His replacement, Chris Crowley, was two for four and drove in two runs. . . .
Outfielder Jeff Farlow was four for four and drove in five runs in Crespi's two opening victories. In Saturday's 13-4 victory over Carson, Crespi had four runs saunter across the plate in one inning: three on bases-loaded walks and one on a hit batsmen with the bases loaded.
NORTHWEST VALLEY CONFERENCE
El Camino Real Coach Mike Maio had a little extra work to do Tuesday. Not only did the school's baseball diamond need to be chalked before the Conquistadores' game against Monroe, so did the sideline.
A new national rule requires schools to provide a "designated media area" for photographers shooting baseball games.
Dale Williams, the rules interpreter for the California Interscholastic Federation and an NFL official, said the area must be set aside before the umpires arrive or photographers will be required to shoot the game from outside the field of play.
Williams said the rule was passed to prevent photographers from being injured by line drives. In the past, photographers generally were allowed to roam along the sideline in the field of play. The photographers' site will be a dead-ball area. . . .