Ethan Anderson of Los Angeles Fairfax started the basketball season as a wide-eyed freshman. He's ending it as an experienced guard the Lions can count on in pressure situations.
In a sold-out Westchester High gym and just one week before the City Section playoffs begin, Anderson delivered 12 clutch points, including two free throws with 1.9 seconds left, to help the Lions (27-3, 11-1) defeat Westchester, 47-43, and earn a share of the Western League championship.
Outside shots were hard to make all night in a defensive struggle. The one player who finally got hot for Fairfax was Antoine Monroe, who made a three-point shot and 15-footer in the fourth quarter to halt a Westchester comeback from 13 points down and get the Lions back ahead.
Then it was up to Anderson, sophomore Jamal Hartwell and freshman Bobby McRae to handle the crowd, the excitement and the intense pressure. Earlier this season, they wilted in a 53-47 loss to Westchester. This time, they rose up and weren't intimidated.
"It was a crazy crowd," Anderson said. "The seniors trusted me to handle the ball. In the first game, I let the crowd get to me. This time, I played much better defense on their point guard."
Keith Fisher scored 18 points for Westchester (23-6, 11-1), which is still expected to be the No. 1 seed for the Open Division playoffs. The Comets hurt themselves by missing 16 free throws and struggling with their shooting from outside the key.
They still had a chance to tie in the closing seconds after a missed Anderson free throw. Terrell Waiters drove toward the basket but missed a layup under pressure from Fairfax center Babacar Thiombane. Anderson got the rebound, was fouled and clinched the win.
"I've never played in a game with that many people watching," Anderson said.