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Fairfax Cruises Past Long Beach Poly

Josh Shipp scores 30 points and the Lions win a Division I regional quarterfinal, 75-57.

March 10, 2004|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

So, this is how the Long Beach Poly boys' basketball team is rewarded for winning the biggest division in the state's largest section?

Opening the state playoffs with a Southern California Regional Division I quarterfinal against Los Angeles Fairfax, which spent the entire season ranked second in California behind two-time defending Division I state champion Westchester, a team that wasn't even eligible for the postseason.

To their credit, the fourth-seeded Jackrabbits (28-4) kept their complaints to a minimum when the pairings were released Sunday, and most were still not ready to assign blame elsewhere after their 75-57 loss Tuesday night to Fairfax (24-5) at Long Beach City College.

They all knew, sooner or later, they would have to play a team like Fairfax. They just didn't think it would be Tuesday.

"We knew they were going to come out determined and try to make amends," Poly Coach Sharrief Metoyer said of Fairfax's trying to bounce back after losing the City championship to Woodland Hills Taft on Saturday. "Our guys couldn't match their intensity."

Josh Shipp had 30 points and Jamal Boykin had 24, including 12 in the third quarter when the Lions took control by outscoring Poly, 22-13, to take a 57-41 lead.

The Jackrabbits, who feature three Division I-caliber seniors, won their 21st consecutive game Saturday with a 50-34 victory over top-seeded Etiwanda in the Southern Section Division I-AA championship game.

Seniors Marcus Lewis (6 feet 8), Chris Fields (6-6) and Curtis Allen (6-4) combined for 37 points, nearly 10 below their season averages, and each struggled at times in the game. Combined with Poly's starting backcourt being held scoreless in the game, the Jackrabbits faltered at game's end.

Poly made 20 of 53 shots (38.5%) and Fairfax made 26 of 51 (50.9%). In the third quarter, the Lions made nine of 14 shots and Poly made four of 11 tries.

"They just outplayed us," Metoyer said. "We let the game slip away in the third quarter."

During the Poly winning streak, the Jackrabbits also defeated Division II-A champion Compton Dominguez, 64-62, at the California Hoops Challenge on Jan. 10, making up for a 37-point loss to the Dons a month earlier. Dominguez has not lost since.

The Jackrabbits also twice defeated Division II-AA runner-up Villa Park, went unbeaten in the Moore League and faced a strong line of opponents in their run to the title, including Fontana, Chino Hills Ayala and Lynwood.

Still, tournament organizers believed three other teams were stronger than Poly. And Fairfax probably would have been the top-seeded team had it not lost to Taft Saturday night.

As for Fairfax, which hasn't won a City title in its last three tries, it's on to play Thursday at top-seeded Oceanside El Camino, a 78-61 winner over Huntington Beach Marina.

The Lions started the season with the hopes of winning the Western League and City Section titles and making a state playoff run.

After sharing the league title with Westchester, the Lions hit a bump Saturday night.

"For three days we've all been suffering," Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said in reference to the City final loss. "The hurt is still there."

The Lions beat El Camino, 58-51, at the California Hoops Challenge on Jan. 10, one of a handful of victories against nationally ranked opponents this winter.

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