Fairfax locks down a win
There are lots of coaches who dread having teams play at Arco Arena, known as a black hole for high school shooters. Los Angeles Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani is the exception. Twice his teams have come here and left as state Division I champions while limiting opponents to record lows in points.
On Saturday night, the City Section-champion Lions (28-5) concluded their most successful season in school history, benefiting from a wave of missed shots by Oakland McClymonds to come away with a 54-29 victory in the Division I boys’ championship game.
“We love Arco,” Kitani said.
Whether it was good defense by Fairfax, poor shooting by McClymonds or a combination of both, the statistics tell an overwhelming story of how the game was won. McClymonds’ 29 points tied for the lowest point total in the modern era of the state championships, dating to 1981. When Fairfax won here in 2004, the Lions held Concord De La Salle to 35 points, then the lowest total in state history.
McClymonds (28-4) went scoreless in the second quarter and finished the game having made only 11 of 49 shots and three of 14 from the free-throw line.
“It was a great defensive effort by our guys,” Kitani said. “It’s been our MO all year, playing hard-nosed defense and grinding it out.”
Ja’Shon Hampton led Fairfax on offense with 14 points, and Chace Stanback, Rod Singleton and Chris Solomon added 10 points apiece.
The game, played before 4,590, might not have been the most entertaining because of numerous missed shots by both teams, but Fairfax didn’t care.
“Defense wins championships,” Hampton said.
The second quarter produced a rarity. McClymonds missed all eight of its shots and was outscored, 10-0. Equally stunning was that Fairfax held an 18-12 halftime lead even though Stanback, averaging 25.8 points, scored only two points.
It was Hampton’s hustle, court leadership and relentless defensive pressure that inspired the Lions. He had eight of Fairfax’s 18 points. Most memorable, though, was Hampton diving for a loose ball in the second quarter and showing his willingness to sacrifice an elbow burn or two to deliver victory.
“I didn’t get no bruises,” Hampton said. “It was a hustle play.”
McClymonds missed four more shots to start the third quarter and another 1:49 went off the clock before the scoring drought finally ended with a basket by Vincent McGhee, leaving the Warriors down only 21-15.
Fairfax began to pull away midway through the third quarter. Solomon contributed a pair of baskets and Stanback, after missing nine of his first 10 shots, made a 15-foot jumper, and the Lions led, 29-17.
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