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Otis Wins Home Debut

Dominguez defeats league rival Lynwood, 60-57, and Dons might be getting help.

January 16, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

On Saturday, Marcus Malone scored four points for the Carson High boys' basketball team in its upset of nationally ranked and then-undefeated Bakersfield Garces.

On Sunday, the junior guard attended a Clipper game with a Colt assistant coach and a teammate.

On Wednesday, Malone sat one row behind the Compton Dominguez bench in street clothes and walked through the postgame handshake line as if he were a member of the Dons.

In fact, he practically was. Malone transferred to Dominguez earlier in the week and was waiting to receive clearance to join the basketball team.

Dominguez didn't need Malone on Wednesday night as it held on to defeat San Gabriel Valley League rival Lynwood, 60-57, in Don Coach Russell Otis' first home game since returning last month to the post he previously held for 13 years.

But Malone might eventually be another piece in the Dominguez puzzle as Otis attempts to restore his team to national prominence.

Asked if Malone would be able to join the roster soon, Otis said, "Hopefully."

Otis' return included little fanfare. Even the announcer's attempt to stir the crowd before the game by yelling, "Let's hear it for the one, the only RUSS-ELL OOOOOOOTIS!" was met with polite applause.

The crowd, which filled about two-thirds of the gymnasium, included Compton Unified School District Superintendent Jesse Gonzales and several members of the school board that approved Otis' return last month in a hotly contested 4-3 vote. Board President Isadore Hall, who voted in favor of Otis, sported a Dominguez letterman's jacket and a black beret with the letter "D.".

In November 2000, Otis was accused and later charged with sexually molesting a former player. He was fired from Dominguez before being acquitted of all charges in April 2001.

Wednesday marked Otis' first home game in nearly three years, and just about everything went the coach's way. Trailing, 48-47, midway through the fourth quarter, Dominguez used four consecutive free throws by forward Travon Free to retake the lead.

"This game was so important for me and my teammates, to win it for Coach Otis," said Free, who had a game-high 20 points. "I've been looking forward to this game since Christmas."

Jason Murdock added 17 points for Dominguez (5-4, 1-0), which is 3-2 since Otis' return. McCall and Shektore Henry scored 13 points apiece for Lynwood (12-4, 0-1).

Malone, a part-time starter at Carson, isn't the only player who might join the Dons soon. A.J. Tolbert, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Bellflower St. John Bosco, is also bound for Dominguez, Brave Coach Randy Held said.

A Carson coach was informed Malone was leaving 20 minutes after dropping him off following the Clipper game Sunday.

Malone's mother called the coach and told him that the family was moving to Compton. Malone checked out of Carson High on Monday.

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