It's more than three hours before the boys' varsity basketball game between Santa Monica and host Beverly Hills is scheduled to begin, and there are lots of signs that more than winning a basketball game is at stake.
Two television news trucks are parked outside, a Beverly Hills police car is stationed along the street and four Santa Monica security guards are already on site for a sparsely attended junior varsity girls' game taking place inside the gym. Four more Santa Monica security aides are scheduled to arrive, a security aide said. Santa Monica's principal, Eva Mayoral, is present helping coordinate security for her students.
Administrators from both schools are taking no chances with precautions in an attempt to prevent a repeat of a parking lot skirmish on Jan. 23 at Santa Monica after the previous game between the two schools.
While there were no incidents at the game involving players, there were confrontations involving students.
The coaches involved, Jarvis Turner of Beverly Hills and James Hecht of Santa Monica, are trying to get their players to focus on playing basketball.
"I think it will be pretty calm," Turner said.
Added Hecht: "I don't think we've gotten caught up with all the off-the-court activities."
Eight Beverly Hills police officers are expected to be on site, along with Santa Monica police, and you can count on TV camera crews to be around just in case of a commotion.
There's also a pretty good basketball game on tap, with Beverly Hills featuring Arizona-bound 6-foot-11 Chance Comanche and Santa Monica having 6-foot-11 junior Jayce Johnson. Beverly Hills is unbeaten in the Ocean League. Santa Monica is two games behind with two to play.