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High School Sports

Column: Annual Fairfax-Westchester basketball showdown could be first big casualty of teachers’ strike

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Fairfax basketball players are ready to take on Westchester on Friday but a teachers’ strike could force the game to be postponed.
(Nick Koza)

Fairfax (17-1) is ready to take on Westchester (18-1) on Friday night in the City Section basketball game of the year. Players are reaching peak form. Fans are ready to stand in line to pack the Fairfax gym. Coaches are ready to put together their final game preparation.

Except the game is unlikely to take place and will be one of the first casualties of the teachers’ strike set to begin on Monday in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“I hope they hurry up and get this over with,” said former Crenshaw great John Williams, the father of Fairfax center Daylen Williams. “Give the teachers what they want. They deserve it.”

If only negotiations were that simple...

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Unfortunately, a strike is about to halt the sports seasons for thousands of City Section athletes, boys and girls. No practices or games will be allowed. Everyone can hope for a quick resolution but no one knows when it will end.

Playoffs and championship competitions in basketball, soccer and wrestling are in jeopardy, and an extended strike would also affect spring sports.

There are more important issues involved with the strike than sports, but this strike could be very unpredictable. The last one 30 years ago lasted nine days. This one, in the era of social media, could have students capturing scenes on their cellphones that affect the PR war both sides will be waging.

Expect most students to show up to school on Monday, see how much learning will be taking place, then make a decision about whether to return.

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The City Section would likely have to revise its playoff schedule, since the regular season ends Feb. 1 and league games will be missed this week.

Athletes will be on their own trying to stay in shape at parks and fitness centers. Good luck. Let’s hope each side gets their act together soon.

Baseball is coming: Rain is forecast for this week, which means the high school baseball season must be starting soon. It’s set to begin on Feb. 9, so let me offer some early tidbits:

La Mirada, coming off a 26-4-1 season, is ready to make a strong bid to be the Southern Section Division 1 champion with eight returning starters. No team has a better returning trio than juniors Jared Jones and Emilio Morales and senior Darius Perry.

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Top returning baseball players at La Mirada High include, from left, Emilio Morales, Darius Perry and Jared Jones.
(Courtesy La Mirada High)

Jones could be the best two-way player in the Southland while Morales is 12-0 as a pitcher. Both have committed to USC. Perry, who has signed with UCLA, had 11 home runs and 52 RBIs while playing catcher last season.

“Chemistry is so important and I can’t remember having a team that is this close,” coach Jimmy Zurn said.

La Puente Bishop Amat won the winter tournament at Palm Desert and is loaded with quality pitchers, including returnees Blake Archuleta, Steven Loera and Izeah Muniz, plus transfer Jacob Vargas from Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart. Freshman shortstop Frankie Peralez is expected to make an impact.

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Manhattan Beach Mira Costa was 28-4 last season and has lots of returnees, including the Karros brothers, Jared and Kyle, who are both headed to UCLA.

Lake Balboa Birmingham, going for its third consecutive City Section Open Division championship, returns seven starters, led by catcher Johnny Tincher, a Washington signee. Junior pitcher Albert Garcia is 16-3 in two years on varsity. The Patriots are entered in the National Classic.

Fountain Valley has two juniors already committed to UCLA and Arizona, respectively, in pitcher Jake Brooks and shortstop Sebastian Murillo.

Huntington Beach Ocean View pitcher Gavin Kennedy, who signed with Cal State Fullerton, was the Golden West League MVP last season.

Lucas Gordon, a USC commit who didn’t pitch last season for Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and underwent arm surgery, is back throwing bullpen sessions.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @latsondheimer


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