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Dominguez, Otis Win Another Title

March 20, 2004|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — When Russell Otis returned to coach the Compton Dominguez boys' basketball team last season, most observers figured it was only a matter of time until the Dons won another state title.

Those expectations became more realistic during the ensuing months, when an influx of talented players transferred to Dominguez. On Friday, the Dons and Otis completed their comeback with a 67-46 victory over Hayward in the Division II state championship game at Arco Arena, giving the program six state titles in the last nine years.

"This feels better than all the other ones," said Otis, who captured his fifth title. "Better because of the interruption."

Otis coached the Dons from 1986 until 2000, earning a fourth state title and a mythical national championship in his final season. That fall he was arrested, and later prosecuted, for allegedly sexually molesting one of his players. He was later fired by the Compton Unified School District for not having a permanent teaching credential. Otis was acquitted in April 2001 on the molestation charges, a month after the Dons won their fifth state title.

After Dominguez finished 16-14 in 2001-02, when it had a 62-game league winning streak ended by Downey, the Dons lost in the second round of the Southern Section Division II-A playoffs.

Dominguez Coach Mack Calvin resigned after one season and Otis reapplied for his former job, teaching credential in hand.

Otis didn't have much to work with at first. He managed to get the Dons into the section quarterfinals before losing to Redondo.

That didn't stop players from wanting to play for the Dons, who added transfers LaMar Roberson, Bryan Harvey, Derek Wright, Marcus Malone and A.J. Tolbert since Otis returned. Four have starting roles this season and Tolbert is a key reserve. Together, the six transfers accounted for 43 points against Hayward. Roberson led the Dons with 18 points and Harvey had 10.

Dominguez (30-5) didn't waste time taking control against the Farmers (31-2). After Hayward took its only lead, 6-5, on two free throws by Jamon Hill, the Dons went on a 14-2 run and led by 20 at halftime.

"To me, the real difference in the first half was the on-the-ball pressure," Hayward Coach Jesse Formaker said. "They really didn't let us get comfortable on the floor offensively."

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