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ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Azzam has Westchester ready

December 01, 2008|ERIC SONDHEIMER | Sondheimer is a Times staff writer.

With eight City Section championships, four state titles and a 610-201 record in 29 years of coaching, Ed Azzam has built the Westchester High boys' basketball program into a Southern California powerhouse.

But this season, Westchester alumni get to walk around with an added sense of pride because six former Comets are playing in the NBA.

Turn on the TV and there's a good chance you'll get to see an ex-Westchester player in action.

There's Trevor Ariza with the Lakers, Jason Hart with the Clippers, Bobby Brown with the Sacramento Kings, Amir Johnson with the Detroit Pistons, Hassan Adams with the Toronto Raptors and Gabe Pruitt with the Boston Celtics.

"We're proud, but we're more proud of the fact that the seniors we have go to college," Azzam said.

"It's nice to have kids in the NBA, but it has more to do with God's work."

Westchester will be one of the favorites to win this season's City title. The team has an outstanding guard duo in senior Dominique O'Connor and junior Jordin Mayes.

The Comets play host to their own tournament this week, with Woodland Hills Taft, Compton Dominguez and Los Angeles Windward among the teams entered. It begins today and ends Saturday.

Villa Park coach is in hot water

The Southern Section office holds over schools the possibility of sanctions if they don't deal appropriately with coaches who violate rules. Villa Park is about to find out how far the Southern Section will go.

The Orange Unified School District imposed a two-game suspension on Villa Park basketball Coach Kevin Reynolds after the Southern Section forwarded information on alleged rule violations.

The Southern Section is not very impressed with the response.

"I won't speak on specifics, but based on the information we found and shared with Villa Park, we don't think the punishment fit the crime," Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons told Lance Pugmire of The Times.

This is a test for the Southern Section. Everyone knows basketball is the sport that needs to be cleaned up. If Reynolds violated Southern Section rules, a stiffer penalty is warranted.

"I feel I did not do anything wrong," Reynolds told the Orange County Register.

Talk of winter ball

Mission Hills Alemany has a 14-year-old freshman third baseman gaining respect as a future standout. Trey Williams, 6 feet, 185 pounds, first attracted attention during summer baseball when he had 39 hits, 36 runs batted in and four home runs for the Warriors in the Valley Invitational Baseball League.

"He's real good," Coach Randy Thompson said. "He's a guy who has a shot at making a living playing this game."

Williams is the son of former major leaguer Eddie Williams.

Hottest pitcher in the Southland

Last season, Gerrit Cole of Orange Lutheran was the No. 1 professional pitching prospect from the Southland. He ended up turning down the New York Yankees and enrolled at UCLA.

This season, left-hander Tyler Matzek of Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley has been the standout in summer showcases, throwing above 90 mph.

Outfielder Jacob Marisnick from Riverside Poly was chosen the No. 1 hitting prospect by Baseball America from the Area Code Games last August.

Stafford draws a lot of attention

They don't get much taller than 6-foot-6 freshman Imani Stafford of Windward. Coach Steve Smith said Stafford has the chance "to be the No. 1 recruit in the nation" for girls' basketball.

Stafford has basketball royalty in her bloodlines. Her mother is Pam McGee, who won two NCAA titles at USC and a gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games. Her father is the Rev. Kevin Stafford, who played at Reseda Cleveland. Smith coached McGee when he was an assistant with the Sparks in 1998. With five senior starters at Windward, Stafford is going to be brought along slowly. But Smith said, "She will be very good."

Etc.

Shawn Kolani, the sister of Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, is a freshman guard at Woodland Hills Taft and ready to earn lots of playing time this season. . . . Long Beach Poly has been rated No. 1 in the preseason CalHiSports.com girls' basketball rankings. Santa Ana Mater Dei is No. 4, Brea Olinda No. 5, Cajon No. 6, Santa Ana Foothill No. 11 and Chatsworth No. 14.

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Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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