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Arrests Led to Suspension of Prep Basketball Players : Jurisprudence: A Morningside athlete and another from Inglewood are awaiting a hearing in juvenile court. Police say they were booked on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm and carrying a concealed firearm in a car.

March 25, 1993|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Basketball standouts Sean Harris of Morningside High and Givon Hester of Inglewood High were among three juveniles arrested March 15 after Inglewood police found two handguns, at least one of which was loaded, in the vehicle that Hester was driving, police said.

Harris, Hester and a 14-year-old boy were booked on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm and carrying a concealed firearm and were released to their parents, police said. They are awaiting a hearing in juvenile court.

School officials would not comment on the case, but sources said Harris and Hester, who are both 17, have been suspended by their respective schools and could face expulsion. Both students are seniors.

Harris' suspension prevented him from playing Saturday night in the State Division III championship game at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. Playing without their starting point guard, the Monarchs were beaten by Palo Alto, 79-59.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday March 26, 1993 South Bay Edition Sports Part C Page 11 Column 6 Zones Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Basketball record--The Morningside High boys' basketball team was 54-12 over the past two seasons. An incorrect record appeared in Thursday's section.

Sgt. Alex Perez said the three juveniles were arrested after police received an anonymous report at 3:50 p.m. of a suspicious-looking vehicle with armed individuals. Perez said police stopped the vehicle in a rear parking lot at Inglewood High. Harris and the 14-year-old were passengers.

After detaining the three suspects, police searched the vehicle and found a 9-mm handgun and a .25-caliber handgun, said Perez, who added that at least one of the weapons was loaded.

Morningside senior Stais Boseman, the Monarchs' top player, said Harris' suspension affected the team in its preparation for the state final. Harris did not practice last week and was not allowed to travel with the team to Oakland. Harris made the trip with his father and watched the game from the stands, Boseman said.

"It kind of took everything out of me," said Boseman, who made only three of 19 shots and finished with 12 points Saturday. "Seeing him go through that wasn't too uplifting. We're all like a little group. Him not playing put a damper on things.

"It was supposed to be his last high school game. Seeing him sitting in the stands, I don't think the coaches were happy. The players weren't happy. I don't think (the school) should have kept him out of the game."

A straight-A student who scored more than 1,000 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, Harris was a candidate for class valedictorian at Morningside.

"He's been near-perfect his whole life," Boseman said. "Now people are going to think he's just another bad kid at a black high school. He just has to hold his head up and learn from this."

Inglewood Supt. George McKenna would not comment on Harris' case, but said he expects Harris to graduate from "wherever he will be in school." Others who refused comment included Morningside Principal Liza Daniels, Monarch basketball Coach Carl Franklin and Benjamin Harris, Sean's father.

The 5-foot-5 Harris was a starter each of the past two seasons, helping Morningside to a 51-12 record, two Ocean League titles, two Southern Section Division III-AA titles and the 1992 State Division III championship. This season, he led the Monarchs (29-6) in assists, averaging 6.8 a game, and was named to the All-Ocean League second team.

Boseman said not having Harris in Saturday's game was a disruptive factor for Morningside, which shot 34.3% from the field and made only two of 20 three-point attempts. Boseman missed all nine of his three-point tries, and senior Donminic Ellison, who normally plays shooting guard, made only two of nine three-point attempts while handling point guard duties.

"I didn't think a 5-5 player would make that much of a difference, but after the first quarter I knew," Boseman said. "We didn't have our fast break going. When we're not running, we're not effective. We can't win by shooting from the outside."

Harris' arrest and suspension were compounded last week by the deaths of Ellison's grandmother and Morningside Assistant Principal Anthony Vega.

"It took its toll," Boseman said. "We were totally out of sync."

Hester was the leading scorer for Inglewood each of the past two seasons, helping the Sentinels to two Bay League titles. The 6-4 forward averaged 18.5 points this season and was named to the All-Bay League first team. Inglewood (19-10) won three Southern Section playoff games before losing to top-seeded J.W. North of Riverside, 77-56, in the Division II-AA semifinals.

A former Morningside student, Hester was transferred to Inglewood after his sophomore year because of disciplinary reasons, sources said.

Patrick Roy, Inglewood's first-year basketball coach, said Hester was a model player.

"He was great, no problem at all," Roy said. "I don't know of his past problems, but he didn't give me any problems. He was a leader for our team."

Roy confirmed that Hester has been suspended by the school. Inglewood Principal Ken Crowe would not comment.

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