Westchester basketball team surrounds Coach Ed Azzam during game against… (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles…)
If all goes as expected, Westchester and Woodland Hills El Camino Real will meet in a much-anticipated City Section Division I championship game in boys' basketball March 2 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
The playoff pairings were released Saturday, and Westchester (24-6) was seeded No. 1 and El Camino Real (25-2) No. 2. Crenshaw (16-8) is No. 3 and Palisades (20-8) is No. 4. The challenge for the 14 other teams in Division I is to find a way to prevent a Westchester-ECR final.
Westchester has proven itself against the best in the Southern Section, losing close games to Torrance Bishop Montgomery, Long Beach Poly and Santa Ana Mater Dei. Westchester opens play Thursday at home against Fremont.
"Defensively, we're playing with a lot more intensity and intelligence," said Coach Ed Azzam, who has won 10 City titles in his 33 years of coaching.
El Camino Real won the Division II title last season, its first in school history. Coach David Rebibo, in his sixth season, has molded a young team into a Division I title contender. The Conquistadores play host to Canoga Park in their opener.
"We're excited, we're energized," Rebibo said. "We think we got a good draw and have a good group of guys ready to play."
The City Section could benefit by the addition of the Open Division for the state playoffs. A fifth team could be included for the state playoffs if the Division I champion is picked for the Open Division.
Los Angeles was seeded No. 1 in Division II, with Granada Hills Kennedy getting the top seeding in Division III and View Park Prep in small schools.
In girls' pairings, Narbonne was seeded No. 1 in Division I, followed by Carson, Fairfax and El Camino Real. Westchester is No. 1 in Division II, Reseda in Division III and View Park Prep in small schools.
— Eric Sondheimer