City Section teams return to practice after teachers’ strike ends
“Yeah! Let’s go,” Westchester All-City center Kaelen Allen cried as the Comets began their first basketball practice in more than a week on Wednesday under coach Ed Azzam.
There was anticipation and excitement around the City Section as sports teams tried to return to normal routines with practices after a teachers’ strike that began on Jan. 14 was settled, clearing the way for teams to return to practice Wednesday and restart the seasons of basketball, soccer, wrestling and girls’ water polo with games on Thursday.
Westchester players sure looked in shape as Azzam directed them through drills. Most have been working out on their own or playing in pickup games at fitness centers. Guards Jeremiah Turley and Jordan Brinson organized one team practice to go over plays. The Comets are 18-1 and set to play rival Fairfax on Friday night at Westchester, then play the Lions in a makeup game at Fairfax on Jan. 31.
“Everyone is hyped,” Brinson said of facing the 17-1 Lions. “It’s completely different than any game I’ve played in. You have to prepare. There’s so many people and you don’t want to do badly.”
Teams have until Feb. 1 to reschedule postponed games. Since lots of basketball teams are already scheduled to play three games next week, many will stick by their current schedule and not replace games.
Baseball coaches returned to see whether their usually manicured fields had held up during the rains without anyone dragging the field.
Sylmar coach Ray Rivera showed up to take a look at his field at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, pulled some weeds and made plans to mow the infield on Thursday. The baseball season begins Feb. 9, and Los Angeles Unified School District teams are playing catch up to charter schools such as defending champion Birmingham, which got to practice during the six-day teachers’ strike.
The playoff seedings for basketball are set for Feb. 2. There are some big games over the next nine days. The Marine League title should be decided on Friday when first-place Gardena faces second-place Narbonne. In the West Valley League, first-place Birmingham faces Taft. Birmingham has played two games and practiced while Taft was holding its first practice in 10 days on Wednesday.
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