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NOTEBOOK : Local Runner Gets Into the Spirit of the L.A. Marathon


An added warm-up before last Sunday's L.A. Marathon and 90-degree temperatures during the 26.2-mile race did little to slow Hector Lopez.

Lopez, 25, was the first finisher from Los Angeles, placing 14th in 2:30:30. He attended church an hour before the race in his running singlet and shorts before walking to the starting line--a mile away.

"I didn't think there would be many runners at church, but there were quite a few," Lopez said.

There may have been quite a few runners at church, but at the finish none of them were anywhere near Lopez, who was the third U.S. finisher in the 19,073-runner field.

Lopez, a veteran of nine marathons, clipped nearly eight minutes off his best of 2:38:19 set at the 1988 Long Beach Marathon despite running in the hottest weather in the L.A. Marathon's eight-year history.

"I was worried at first," said Lopez, who finished 118th in last year's race and began running four years ago after watching the L.A. Marathon on television. "I tried to run in the shade whenever I could but I stayed on pace."

Mary Button, 33, winner of the Western Hemisphere Marathon in December, was the top female finisher from Los Angeles, placing sixth in 2:57:24.

Snubbed--Jefferson High won its first City girls' basketball title in the school's 76-year history, defeating Narbonne in the 3-A final at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on March 5.

The Democrats (26-3) also earned another distinction, but a dubious one. They were the only section girls' champion team in Southern California not given a berth into the State Regional tournament. Previously, the City 4-A and 3-A champions were awarded automatic berths in the eight-team Division I tournament to determine the region's finalist for the State championship game.

Only the 4-A champion, however, was guaranteed a place in the tournament this season, leaving Jefferson (26-3) with no place to go.

"I just don't understand why we couldn't continue," Jefferson senior forward Shonte Tippie said.

Jefferson won its final 12 games and 17 of its last 18, including a victory over 4-A quarterfinalist Roosevelt.

However, comparative strength between the 4-A and 3-A divisions was one of the factors cited in the decision. The 3-A girls' champion has never advanced past the first round in the tournament's 11-year history.

Democrat Party--Tippie, who scored 104 points in four playoff victories, was named the Eastern League's Most Valuable Player, and teammates Kyetra Brown and Chaka Smith were also first-team selections. Garfield's Sandra Hinojosa and Deena Duran, along with Danielle Henderson of Locke and Aracely Cordova of Bell, were also named to the first team.

Young recruit--Remember the name Travis Reed. He's a 6-foot-5 point guard who can dribble behind his back, drive the lane and dunk with either hand. And he is only 13.

Reed is an eight-grader at St. Francis Cabrini Elementary School in the Athens area, near L.A. Southwest College.

Coach Randy Gilmer compares his young basketball phenom to a former NBA star who appeared beyond his years at an early age.

"To be honest with you, (he's) a young Magic Johnson," Gilmer said. "That's not just me talking, but a lot of other people. He has great court awareness and plays good man defense."

Reed is just one of several talented players for the elementary school, which is competing in the Catholic Youth Organization playoffs. The playoffs began last week and continue through Saturday.

According to Gilmer, Reed will attend Serra of Gardena or Westside Prep of Culver City, but other renowned basketball powers would like to have him.

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