Denzel Washington, actor, sports fan and former L.A. Windward parent, showed up Tuesday night in the Wildcats' gym and was passing around his cellphone so his son, Malcolm, last season's point guard, could offer a pep talk to a couple of Windward players.
And when Denzel hands you his phone, you gladly take it.
"I think there are only a few people in the world you don't question their authority when they pass you a phone," Windward Coach Miguel Villegas said.
Malcolm Washington, a freshman at Pennsylvania, wanted to wish Windward good luck against rival North Hollywood Campbell Hall. Then the Wildcats went out and clinched the Olympic League championship with a 61-56 victory.
Junior Wesley Saunders scored 19 points, sophomore Nick Stover had 11 points and freshman Jordan Wilson added 11 points for Windward (18-7, 9-0), ranked No. 1 in Southern Section Division 5AA and the defending state Division V champions.
"It's our first outright Olympic title since I've been here in seven years," Villegas said. "It feels good to say we've swept Campbell Hall after they've been dominating the league. This win gives us great momentum for the rest of the league and into the playoffs."
Campbell Hall (18-7, 6-3) opened a 9-1 lead, but the Vikings got into trouble when center James Johnson picked up two fouls in the first four minutes. And when the Vikings' shots stopped falling, Windward took control.
Junior guard Austin McBroom finished with 21 points for Campbell Hall, but he received little help.
Windward got a lift in the third quarter from 6-foot-7 freshman Chauncey Hill, who made four baskets after Campbell Hall had cut a nine-point halftime deficit to four points.
Windward has done a good job getting back into top form despite the loss to graduation of Washington, Darius Morris (Michigan) and Anthony Stover (UCLA).
The Wildcats have played a competitive schedule to prepare them for the playoffs, having faced the likes of Los Angeles Price and Woodland Hills Taft. And the young players are starting to develop.
"We're young, but they've grown up pretty big," Villegas said.