Westchester hoped the third time would be the charm Saturday night in the City Section Open Division boys’ basketball final at L.A. Southwest College.
Instead, Los Angeles Fairfax’s athleticism and depth again proved to be too much as it grinded its way to a 60-53 victory in a highly anticipated showdown between two of the best teams in Southern California.
The Comets dropped both Western League matchups against Fairfax, but were in control in the early stages of the championship game, scoring on two dunks in their first five possessions and carrying a six-point lead into the second quarter.
Once the slumbering Lions awoke, however, there was no taming them. Fairfax erupted for 16 consecutive points to begin the second quarter while holding Westchester scoreless for nearly five minutes and surged to a 10-point lead before senior guard Jordan Brinson made two free throws to stop the onslaught.
Fairfax outscored Westchester 19-4 in the second quarter and headed to the locker room with a 30-21 lead and the confidence of a champion.
The Lions maintained their lead entering the fourth quarter and pushed it to 13 points with five minutes remaining.
It was the eighth City title for Fairfax and first since the Lions won the Open Division in 2015. Westchester was making its seventh straight appearance in the City’s upper-division final but was denied its 15th section title, all under Ed Azzam, who holds the City record for coaching victories.
After Ka’veon Batiste missed two free throws, Keith Dinwiddie sneaked behind the defense for a layup to give Fairfax a 58-50 lead with 20 seconds left. Brinson made a three-pointer with six seconds left to cut the Comets’ deficit to five points, but Dinwiddie was intentionally fouled and made two free throws to close the scoring.
Daylen Williams fouled out with 28 seconds left but not before recording 18 points, seven rebounds, seven blocks and two assists. Dinwiddie had 14 points, and Ethan Anderson had 11 points and five assists for top-seeded Fairfax (27-1).
Brinson and forward Kaelen Allen each scored 16 points for the second-seeded Comets (23-4).
Fairfax avenged a 63-53 defeat in last year’s City final, and Steve Baik became the first coach to win Southern Section and City Section Open Division championships, having led Chino Hills to the Southern Section and state titles in 2016.
“I know how hard it is to beat a great team three times … so I was on edge all week, just ask my wife,” Baik said. “I couldn’t sleep last night.”