Fremont Moves Past Fairfax Into Final With Westchester

From Staff Reports

Fremont High looked forward to the City Section boys’ basketball semifinals from the day the playoff pairings were announced and the Pathfinders found themselves seeded behind Fairfax.

Fremont, co-champion of the Coliseum League, was upset that Western League runner-up Fairfax was seeded second behind Westchester with the Pathfinders third.

Fremont vowed to settle the matter on the court, and the Pathfinders did just that Saturday, defeating Fairfax, 57-48, at Los Angeles Southwest College.


Fremont (20-6) advances to the City championship game next Saturday at the Forum where it will try to slow down the juggernaut that is defending champion Westchester.

“We don’t bow down to anybody,” Fremont senior Kenton Paulino said. “We’re not scared.”

Paulino and his teammates played without fear against Fairfax (22-6) in a game that was not decided until the final 1 minute 7 seconds. Paulino made nine consecutive free throws down the stretch--he was 13 for 13 in the game--and finished with a game-high 24 points to help Fremont gain its first berth in the City championship since 1996.

Sophomore forward Mark Bradford added 12 points for Fremont, which switched to a zone defense after getting burned early by Fairfax power forward Craig Smith in a man-to-man scheme. The move paid off as the Pathfinders limited Smith to 17 points and standout junior forward Evan Burns to 11.

“They did an outstanding job on their defensive strategy,” Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said. “They mixed it up and kept us off balance.”

Fremont led, 30-27 at halftime. After a clumsy and unproductive third quarter by both teams, the Pathfinders trailed, 35-33.

The score was 37-37 with 5:14 left, but Fremont built a 48-41 lead with less than 2:30 remaining when Ken Eatmon made the second of two three-point shots.


A free throw by Kevin Bell and a free throw and three-pointer by Fernando Simpson pulled Fairfax to within 48-46.

Paulino, however, was fouled while taking a three-point shot with 1:07 left and he calmly made three free throws. Thirty seconds later, he made two more. Ten seconds later, two more and, finally, nine seconds later, two more.

Now, Westchester awaits.

“We’re going to have to play as best as we can play,” Fremont Coach Sam Sullivan said. “They are one of the most outstanding teams I have seen in recent years.”