Big Games : Venice at Fairfax

Venice Coach Mike Taylor had no luck in drawing Fairfax (19-1, 10-0 in the Western League) in the first round of the City prep basketball playoffs. But, said Taylor, "I'll take it."

Taylor's Gondoliers (8-12, 5-5) will play the top-seeded and defending 3-A City champion Lions at 4 p.m. Friday at Fairfax.

Venice did not play well at home and lost to Fairfax by 20 points in the first of their two league meetings. But the Gondoliers were tough in the Lions' den and pushed Fairfax into two overtimes before losing, 71-70.

Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani's team is loaded with talent, including point guard Jerome Jenkins, guard Dwayne Canada and front-liners Tony Thomas and Sean Higgins. Taylor's most consistent players have been guard Robert Bibbs, averaging about 15 points, and 6-4 center Oliver Lang, who averages about 10 rebounds.

What does Venice have to do to win? Said Taylor: "The same things as the last time we played them. We have to play tough defense, rebound well and run the fast break."

Culver City at Inglewood

This one, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, is for first place in the Ocean League, and Culver City Coach Marty Siegal is hoping that his team won't fall into is usual; pattern against the Sentinels.

"I can't seem to remember the last time we won over Inglewood," Siegal said. "We usually play well at first, and then we always find a way to lose."

When it lost to Inglewood (12-9, 9-0) this season, 53-51, Culver (18-6, 8-1) led for most of the game. But the Centaurs went about four minutes without a basket in the last quarter and made the mistake of fouling guard Stacey Anderson, who sank eight free throws to pull it out for Inglewood

Siegal said his team has to stop Inglewood's high-scoring forward Eric Jordan but that its "biggest problem will be making sure that guys like Anderson don't go to the line"

Culver has ben paced by 6-6 center Jason Woodruff, who averages about 10 points, 10 rebounds, more than three blocked shots and two steals. Top scorers for the Centaurs have been guards Henry Johnson (16.7-point average) and Marvin Nelson (a 15.8 average).

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