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Sidney does heavy lifting in Fairfax win

February 23, 2008|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

Down by seven points with 2 1/2 minutes left in its City Championship Division semifinal game, Los Angeles Fairfax appeared headed for defeat against Westchester on Friday night at USC's Galen Center.

Then came an extraordinary individual performance by 6-foot-10 center Renardo Sidney. He scored 11 consecutive points, twice making three-point baskets, and delivered the game-winning basket with two seconds left on an 18-foot jump shot to give Fairfax a 55-53 victory.

Sidney finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.

"The big guy let us climb on his back and carry us home," Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said.

Sidney, a junior who's considered the No. 1 center prospect in the nation for the class of 2009, made three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, showing unusual versatility and athleticism for someone with his immense size.

"What a phenomenal performance by Renardo," Kitani said. "It feels like we won the City title. That was the type of game it was."

Westchester (28-4), which defeated Fairfax in a double-overtime thriller earlier this month, fell behind, 11-0, at the outset and missed 11 of its first 12 shots. But the Comets closed to within 22-18 at halftime and went up, 40-38, after three quarters.

Leading the way were junior guard Dominique O'Connor, who had 17 points in the game, and senior guard Jarred Dubois, who made four three-pointers and finished with 16 points.

Westchester took a 51-44 lead on a dunk by Dwayne Polee Jr. with 2:30 remaining.

That's when Sidney took control. He connected on consecutive three-pointers, then scored a basket with 59 seconds left for a 52-51 lead and a free throw with 39 seconds left to make it 53-51.

Westchester tied the score with 20 seconds left on Cordell Hadnot's follow shot.

Fairfax called time out with nine seconds left. The Lions (25-4) inbounded the ball to Sidney, who went one-on-one against Hadnot, hitting nothing but net as he released the ball from just inside the three-point line at the top of the key.

"I was working on my threes all week," Sidney said. "I had to go out there and show the rest of the stuff I had in my bag."

Fairfax, the defending champion, will take on top-seeded Woodland Hills Taft in next Saturday's championship game at the Sports Arena.

Taft 77, Fremont 51 -- Eugene Phelps scored 27 points, making 11 of 12 shots from the field, Justin Hawkins contributed 21 points and Larry Drew Jr. had 11 points and 15 assists for the Toreadors (24-3) in a semifinal game.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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