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It Was a Banner Year

January 02, 1994|SEAN WATERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The 1993 high school athletic season may best be remembered for Kristaan Johnson's last-second shot in the boys' basketball Division I Southern California Regionals.

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Johnson took a long pass from Rico Laurie and made a desperation finger roll as time expired to give Crenshaw a 63-61 victory over Santa Ana Mater Dei. Cal-Hi Sports Magazine called the meeting between the two perennial powers the best boys' basketball game of the year.

Johnson's shot heard 'round the Southland highlighted another banner year for high school sports programs in Central Los Angeles. Local teams accounted for 10 City Section titles, and individual accomplishments continued to make headlines.

* Crenshaw's boys' basketball team beat Dorsey, 92-71, to win its 12th City Section title. The Lady Cougars defeated North Hollywood, 72-50, to win their second City title. Crenshaw is the only school to win both the boys' and girls' championships in the same season, first accomplishing the feat in the 1984-85 season.

* Jefferson's girls' basketball team beat Narbonne, 60-53, to win its first City title in the 3-A Division.

* Fremont upset Monroe, 1-0, to win its first City title in 22 years of soccer competition.

* Bell became the first team outside the San Fernando Valley to win a City wrestling championship since Franklin took the title in 1984. The Eagles have compiled a 50-8 record since the wrestling team was formed in 1990.

* The South Gate baseball team beat Crenshaw, 9-5, to win its third City title, and its first since 1960. The Rams also won in 1955. The Rams softball team, however, was denied a chance to win its sixth City title, losing to Verdugo Hills, 4-3, in eight innings.

* Dorsey's boys' track team won both relays and scored in 12 of 15 events to upset defending champion Birmingham. It was the Dons' fourth City title, and first since 1989.

* Belmont continued its dominance in cross-country under first-year coach Alex Carmona. The Sentinels have won 10 boys' titles and an unprecedented five consecutive girls titles.

* South Gate went 15-0 and won its first City Section girls' tennis title, beating Carson, 4-3, in the 3-A Division final.

But not every local team won a championship.

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In basketball, Verbum Dei lost to Serra, 69-53, in the Southern Section Division IV-A final.

In volleyball, Coach Ken Maki guided the Roosevelt boys' and girls' teams to the City 4-A finals, only to lose to Palisades in both cases.

In football, Dorsey, behind the running of Che Johnson and Christopher Phillips, hit a Carson roadblock and were humbled, 26-0, in the City 4-A final. Fremont reached a championship game for the first time since 1958, but lost to San Pedro, 31-7, in the 3-A game.

Local athletes also won their share of individual honors. Sprinter Michael Granville of Bell Gardens was selected the state's freshman athlete of the year by Cal-Hi Sports. Granville ran 47.24 to become the state's first ninth-grader to run under 48 seconds in the 400 meters. He also holds the national freshman record in the 800 of 1:51.03.

Swimmer Helen Salcedo of Bell won the 100-yard butterfly, her first City title, and later reached two individual finals against national-level competition in the Janet Evans Invitational.

Boxer Carlos Navarro won a gold medal in the 122-pound division at the U. S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio after also taking first place in the National Golden Gloves competition in Arkansas.

David Kang proved a smashing success in the Big Apple, becoming one of two U. S. team members to capture a medal in the 11th annual Tae Kwon Do World Championships at Madison Square Garden. Kang, a teacher at Do San Tae Kwon Do Gym in Silver Lake, won a bronze medal.

Freshman Kendra Segura of Dorsey proved she does not need to belong to a country club to win a tennis title. The freshman upstart surprised senior Brahna Pastorini of Woodland Hills Taft to win the City individual tennis title.

News was also made off the field in 1993 high school sports.

The year began with a majority of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers accepting a 10% pay cut, averting a strike that potentially could have crippled the nation's second largest school system. The school district, however, received a boost in early April when Food 4 Less Supermarkets, Inc., announced that it would donate about $10 million over three years to fund the athletic programs of the district's 49 schools.

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Probably the most controversial story appeared May 8 when the The Times published an investigation into the Crenshaw boys' basketball program, questioning the eligibility of four of the team's nine transfers. Crenshaw was found innocent of any wrongdoing, but the probe forced other schools to more thoroughly investigate the eligibility of its athletes.

There was also a change in leadership in the City and Southern Section offices in 1993. City Commissioner Hal Harkness resigned in October for personal reasons and was replaced by former Belmont athletic director and girls' basketball coach Barbara Fiege. Stan Thomas, CIF Southern Section commissioner since 1986, resigned after an investigation showed he abused his expense account. He was replaced by Dean Crowley.

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