If you want an early candidate for City Section player of the year, mark down the name of 6-foot-5 senior Elijah Stewart of Westchester.
He gave little glimpses of his immense skills on Tuesday night, scoring 23 points and playing strong defense in helping the Comets defeat Long Beach Poly, 72-60, in a quarterfinal game of the Redondo tournament.
Stewart signed with Loyola Marymount. Coach Ed Azzam calls him "a puppy learning the game." And if all goes well by season's end, he and the Comets will be trying to win a 13th City title for Azzam, who's in his 35th season as coach.
Stewart arrived from Louisiana as a sophomore. "A terrific athlete," is what Azzam calls him.
It was a good win for Westchester against a physical Poly team that received 28 points from Chris Sullivan, a Cal Poly Pomona signee. But the Jackrabbits were called for three technicals and had trouble scoring when they needed to.
As far as the Comets, Azzam said, "I"m not upset but I'm not pleased. I know we can play better."
All-City forward Nick Hamilton fouled out and wasn't available much to settle down the Comets. Guard Layon Gooden had 19 points. Azzam said there's lots of individual talent, but, "Listening right now is not one of our strengths."
It's a mostly senior team but there is an intriguing 6-6 sophomore in L'Keilynn Taylor, who just turned 14.
"They're really good kids and they're trying to do what I want them to do, and they're trying to listen," Azzam said.
Next up for Westchester is a semifinal game on Friday against Redondo or Campbell Hall.