The Fairfax High boys' basketball team slowed down the tempo against Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Southern Regional Division I semifinals Thursday and it worked to the Lions' favor for the first half.
But the Monarchs outscored the Lions, 25-10, in the second half en route to a 41-28 win.
"We played a near perfect first half," Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said. "I couldn't ask for any more."
Duane Davis made a 15-foot shot to give the Lions an 18-16 halftime lead. Fairfax had its last lead, 20-18, midway through the third quarter after Jair Fray scored off a rebound. Fray finished with 10 points.
Schea Cotton's dunk capped a 9-2 run as Mater Dei built a 27-22 lead with six minutes left. Cotton scored a season-low 10 points.
"From a physical standpoint, I've never seen anyone play that compares to Schea," Kitani said. "He's not only big, but strong.
"I think it's a tribute to our guys to stick to a game plan."
Three Fairfax players were selected to the Western League all-star team. Davis shared the most valuable player award with Westchester's Ben Sanders. Lions Fray and Israel Plaza were also named to the first team. Westchester guards Danny Walker and Jason Hart and Los Angeles guard "Popeye" Green were the other first-team selections.
After a one-year sabbatical, John McMullen is back as the Santa Monica College men's basketball coach.
"I took a year off to take care of some personal things with my family," said McMullen, who has coached the Corsairs for 16 of the past 17 seasons. "Now I'm rested and started planning for next season."
Assistant Coach Marvin Menzies ran the program for one season and guided the Corsairs to a Western State Conference championship and 24-8 record. The Corsairs suffered a tragic loss when leading scorer Davy Fortson was shot and killed Feb. 17 at a local hamburger stand shortly after the team won the conference championship. The Corsairs lost to Fullerton, 72-64, in the first round of the Southern California Regionals.
"Unfortunately, the Davy Fortson incident really burst a big balloon," McMullen said. "We had a chance to do some really good things in the playoffs."
McMullen, 55, has been coaching basketball for 31 years. Before arriving at Santa Monica, he was a head coach at Camarillo High and an assistant at Brigham Young University.
McMullen said he will now refer to Menzies as his associate coach.
"Marvin did a super job and the team had a great year," McMullen said. "I think a year of experience paid dividends for him. We're fired up to go back to work together."
The NCAA women's basketball West Regional semifinal and championship games will be played at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on March 23 and 25.
Defending champion North Carolina, 1992 champion Stanford and Vanderbilt are among the top seeds expected to reach Westwood if they win their first two tournament games, which begin today.
Vanderbilt, which is the West's top-seeded team, is led by former Bruin and Thousand Oaks standout Michelle Palmisano, who is averaging 10 points a game. Palmisano was named to the Pacific 10 All-Freshman team as a freshman at UCLA during the 1992-93 season before transferring to Vanderbilt.
Palmisano's former high school teammate Marion Jones is one of the top players for third-seeded North Carolina. Jones, the former national prep sprint record-holder, is averaging 17.8 points a game.
Second-seeded Stanford beat Western Kentucky, 78-62, at the Sports Arena to win the 1992 NCAA crown.
Reserved tickets for the three-game tournament are $25 for adults and $20 for students. General admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students.
Information: (310) 825-2101.
St. Bernard baseball Coach Bob Yarnall saw another ball slither through the legs of an infielder. "That's 12 errors in four games," Yarnall said. "They act shocked that the ball is hit to them."
The Vikings (2-2) play perennial power Bishop Amat on Saturday in a Del Rey League game. It's a league-opening game for both teams.
Pitching has been the Vikings' strength. Brandon Pernell has 10 strikeouts and a 1.17 earned-run average in six innings. Pernell, who also plays shortstop, plans to attend Miami on a baseball scholarship.
"Our pitching is pretty good," Yarnall said. "We're just not consistent in the field at all."
In addition to Bishop Amat, St. John Bosco and St. Paul are expected to be challengers for the league title.
Westchester's baseball team not only is a neighbor of St. Bernard but has duplicated the propensity to make errors. The Comets made six errors during a 7-6 loss to Oxnard on March 8.
The Comets opened with two wins, including a victory over St. Bernard, before losing their first game.
The pitching looks promising. Gary Hayes had eight strikeouts against Oxnard. Brian Part and Jaime Roque pitched well against the Vikings.
Outfielder William Reed leads the team in batting with a .666 batting average followed by Hayes (.400) and Mike Moultrie (.375).
The Comets play host to Hamilton at 3 p.m. today. The Comets shut out Hamilton, 13-0, Tuesday in their Coastal Conference opening game.
Fairfax's Jason Lewis ran a 110 hurdles in 14.8 seconds Monday during a Coastal Conference meet against Venice despite competing against only one runner.
"Lewis beat him by three hurdles," Fairfax Coach Terrel Ray said. "It's hard for him to find competition because no one is going out for track. The numbers are really low."
Ray said he only has 18 varsity boys and 10 varsity girls on his teams. He expects some basketball players to join the boys' varsity now that the season is over; others will become eligible after the next grading period.
Santa Monica sophomore Vinita Kinard triple-jumped 41 feet 9 1/2 inches to win the event at a quadrangular meet Tuesday at Santa Monica College.
Oiler freshman Kathy Watson leaped 5-8 to win the high jump.
Santa Monica took first place with 79 points, followed by Ventura (45), Santa Barbara (16) and West L.A. (14).
In men's competition, Ventura won with 72 points. Santa Barbara had 48, West L.A. 33 and Santa Monica 29.
Santa Monica's Marcus Lee won the 100 meters in 11.1. West L.A.'s Jaye McMillan won the 400 in 49.6.