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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Westchester boys' team wins state Division I title

The Comets defeat Oakland McClymonds, 49-31.

March 22, 2009|Eric Sondheimer and Ben Bolch

SACRAMENTO — There's a wall in the Westchester High gym that contains all the championship banners won by the boys' basketball program, and it's getting crowded with 10 City Section titles and a fifth state title to be raised after a dominating 49-31 victory over Oakland McClymonds on Saturday night at Arco Arena.

Coach Ed Azzam isn't worried about finding more space.

"We've got three other walls," he said.

This latest Division I title is particularly satisfying for Azzam because his 35-2 team is loaded with talented juniors, and they were supposed to be a year away from reaching the top.

"I think even within the staff, next year is when we thought we'd be outstanding," he said. "The juniors have stepped up."

McClymonds fans were probably having flashbacks to the 2007 Division I final, when their team made only 11 of 49 shots in a 54-29 loss to Los Angeles Fairfax. On Saturday, they were worse, making 10 of 49 shots.

The Warriors missed shots repeatedly. They failed to connect on 20 of their first 21 attempts and were three for 28 in the first half when Westchester opened a 24-11 lead.

But the Warriors woke up at the outset of the third quarter, increasing their defensive pressure and becoming more aggressive. They outscored the Comets, 8-2.

Westchester, however, regained its lead behind Jordin Mayes, who contributed three baskets in the quarter. And it reached 15 points after Kareem Jamar made a three-pointer from the baseline at the buzzer.

Dominique O'Connor, the City player of the year, who celebrates his 18th birthday on Monday, was his usual steady self, scoring 16 points. Dwayne Polee Jr. had nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

"I think our 2-3 zone really helped us," O'Connor said. "They didn't hit a lot of shots."

Next season, the Comets return Polee, Mayes, 6-9 Reggie Murphy and guards Denzel Douglas and Jamar.

"We're doing it again," Mayes vowed. "We're coming back."

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Richmond Salesian 65, Torrance Bishop Montgomery 64: Leading by one point with seven seconds left and their best player, Minnesota-bound guard Justin Cobbs, at the free-throw line, the Knights had to like their chances to win the Division IV state title.

But in a game of wild momentum swings, the last one was easily the biggest.

When Cobbs missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity, Salesian's Desmond Simmons dribbled frantically upcourt but lost the ball. Guard Jabari Brown picked it up and fed sophomore Kendall Andrews underneath the basket for a layup at the buzzer that set off a wild celebration in which Andrews immediately ripped off his jersey and was mobbed on the court.

"You can blame it on me," said Cobbs, who finished with 24 points and had made all four free throws before his final attempt. "We shouldn't have been in that situation if I made the last two free throws."

The final play was indicative of how quickly things had changed all game, with Salesian (31-4) going on an 18-2 run in the first half and Bishop Montgomery (28-5) countering with a 17-0 run to close the second quarter and open the third.

The Knights led, 59-50, midway through the fourth quarter before Simmons scored nine of his game-high 31 points to help Salesian end the game on a 15-5 surge. Simmons also had 19 rebounds for the Pride, which outrebounded the Knights, 42-26.

"Just extremely, extremely disappointed for us to come that close," Bishop Montgomery Coach Doug Mitchell said. "This one's going to be with me for a long time."

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San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral 62, Huntington Beach Ocean View 55: Pete Carroll and Tim Floyd would have been smiling if they had seen the performance of 6-5 Kevin Greene, who had 20 rebounds and made a key basket in the final minute to stop an Ocean View rally in the Division III final.

Greene signed with USC to play defensive end, but he also has talked with Floyd about playing basketball, and he was a physical force all day.

Ocean View (27-8) trailed by 20 points in the third quarter and by 19 points in the fourth before closing to 58-52 with 1:21 left. But Greene scored on an offensive rebound basket with 52 seconds left, killing the Seahawks' momentum.

Junior Anthony Brown scored 18 points for Ocean View, which made only 18 of 60 shots.

"Kevin Greene is a monster," Ocean View Coach Jim Harris said.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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