It wasn't apparent immediately, but when forward Sean Higgins went to the bench with four fouls Tuesday night, he took Fairfax's season with him.
Until that point, the multi-talented sophomore had neutralized a partisan crowd of some 1,500 Edison fans assembled at McLane gymnasium for a State regional game. Indeed, Fairfax, the City's 3-A champion had held its own and trailed only 48-46.
But when Higgins picked up his fourth personal, the Lions (25-2) floundered. They didn't score a point for nearly three minutes. Edison of Fresno, the North Yosemite League champion and winner of the Central Section, didn't run away, but by the time Higgins came back to hit a jumper, it was 54-48 and the Tigers never looked back in winning, 72-62.
Edison's 26th victory, and 16th in a row, earned it a trip to Los Angeles and a date against the winner of the Crenshaw-Poway game tonight at Mira Mesa High in San Diego.
"We knew Higgins was great," Edison Coach Bob Purdy said. "He's one of the best players in the State. If he keeps working on it, he'll be the best in the State in two years. Hey, I thought our kids did a heck of a job holding him down."
Higgins finished with 19, but only two in the fourth quarter, when Edison sagged three men on the 6-7 forward, daring his teammates to shoot.
Unfortunately, no one except guard Jerome Jenkins answered the challenge, but by then Fairfax was out of it.
"We have some senior leaders on this team and we tried hard," said Jenkins, who finished with 12 points and a half-dozen assists. "I don't think the crowd got to us, but we just didn't play well when Sean sat down."
Coach Harvey Kitani was somewhat disappointed in that his team was unable to contain Edison's Dave Barnett, who finished with 22 points, most on shots from a different area code.