The atmosphere was electric Friday night at Fairfax High. There was a packed gym for a high school basketball game matching City Section powers Westchester and Fairfax. Fans got their money's worth.
There were dunks by Chaunce Hill of Fairfax. There were blocked shots by Nick Reese of Westchester. There was fabulous point guard play by Jonathan Brown of Fairfax. There were three-point bombs by Myles Stewart of Westchester. And most importantly, there was a game that produced drama at the end.
After Lindsey Drew of Fairfax had given his team a one-point lead with an offensive rebound basket with 20 seconds left, Nick Hamilton of Westchester scored on a layup with eight seconds left, enabling the Comets to pull out a 65-64 victory.
"We must have won, because all the kids were happy," Westchester Coach Ed Azzam said.
Fairfax (12-7, 3-1) came close to pulling off the upset with the help of its 2-3 zone defense that was effective in forcing Westchester (17-5, 5-0) to shoot from long range. The Lions held an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
"Somehow, we did enough good things in the third and fourth quarters to win," Azzam said.
Matthew Grant, who scored 16 points, was four for four on free throws in the fourth quarter. Reese became a defensive standout in the final minutes, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. Hamilton scored his only points of the game in the quarter. And the 6-foot-5 Stewart, a junior, finished with four three-pointers on the night and 12 points.
"We neglected a couple of blockouts," Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said.
Brown, a senior who was the backup to Landon Drew last season, has become a solid, dependable point guard, and his development could lead to lots of good days ahead for the Lions. He had 14 points. Hill also had 14 points.
"We've been getting better, and we have to keep getting better," Kitani said.
The win was important for Westchester, because last season the Comets lost twice to Fairfax when there was a three-way tie for the Western League title. But now that they have secured victories on the road this week over Palisades and Fairfax, the Comets are the clear favorite to win the league and take aim at City title favorite Woodland Hills El Camino Real.