When the Los Angeles teachers’ strike ended two weeks ago and rescheduling was completed, Fairfax High basketball players faced the challenge of playing seven games in nine days, including twice against Westchester, a team that had one defeat all season.
“It was a grueling task,” coach Steve Baik said. “If we could get through it, we would put ourselves in position to be No. 1.”
The Lions went 7-0 over the final two weeks and on Saturday were awarded the No. 1 seed for the eight-team City Section Open Division boys’ basketball playoffs. Fairfax is 24-1 and heavily favored to play No. 2 seed Westchester in the Feb. 23 final at L.A. Southwest College.
Of course, others are hoping to pull off the upsets.
Lake Balboa Birmingham, the West Valley League champion, is the No. 3 seed. The Patriots won several close games in recent weeks and are expected to be strengthened in the playoffs by the return of Elisha Cofield, who has been sidelined because of a hand injury. Woodland Hills Taft is seeded No. 4.
Opening-round games: No. 8 Harbor City Narbonne at No. 1 Fairfax; No. 5 Washington Prep at No. 4 Taft; No. 6 Gardena at No. 3 Lake Balboa Birmingham; No. 7 Woodland Hills El Camino Real at No. 2 Westchester.
Helping boost the Lions has been the shooting of junior guard Keith Dinwiddie, who scored 34 points against Westchester on Thursday and 28 points against University on Friday. His development to help support All-City guard Ethan Anderson and four-year standout Robert McRae has been key to the Lions’ rise.
“He went through some personal things that were very difficult to him and was able to overcome and unleashed on Thursday night and it carried over to yesterday,” Baik said. “We’re not surprised.”
First-round games will be Friday and there will be a semifinal doubleheader at Venice on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Granada Hills was seeded No. 1 in Division I, followed by No. 2 King/Drew, No. 3 University and No. 4 Palisades.