It wasn't just a 16-point second-half rally that's going to have Southern California basketball fans talking. It was Westchester finding a way to stun the City Section's No. 1 team all season, Fairfax, 50-49, on Wednesday night.
"We're not going to quit," Westchester Coach Ed Azzam said.
Some Westchester fans were probably ready to put up the white flag of surrender. Late in the third quarter, the Comets (19-11, 11-1) were down by 15 points. But senior guard Ellis Sallahudin led an 8-0 surge, making a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to cut the Comets' deficit to nine and create a fan frenzy.
Sallahudin would go on to score all 18 of his points in the second half, including 11 in the fourth quarter. He had a four-point play, sinking a shot from the top of the key while being fouled.
Westchester finally took the lead with 1:23 left on a basket by Anthony Onwudiwe. Fairfax missed a shot, then got the ball back. The Lions had the ball out of bounds with 9.3 seconds left. The final shot attempt was way off, and Westchester fans charged onto the court.
"It's senior year," Sallahudin said. "I just got the guys behind me, the crowd behind me. I wanted to do it for my team."
On Saturday, Fairfax was 26-0, nationally ranked and No. 1 in The Times' top 25 rankings. Then the Lions couldn't hold on to a 25-20 halftime lead and lost to Mater Dei, 47-34. Then came Wednesday's performance when they once again could not put a team away in the third quarter.
"We just battled all the way," Azzam said.
By winning, Westchester creates a little bit of uncertainty when seedings are announced on Saturday for the City Section Open Division. Fairfax still figures to get the No. 1 seed, but Westchester might be deserving of No. 2 ahead of defending champion El Camino Real, which beat the Comets earlier this season. Westchester is a different team since forward Keith Fisher became eligible last month. Fisher had 12 points.
Donald Gipson was having a terrific game for Fairfax. He had 21 points, including five threes. Loren Currie added 14. Fairfax needs a win at Palisades on Friday to finish tied for first place with Westchester in the Western League.