Column: Westchester walks a fine line in upset of No. 2 Fairfax

Patriots reach Open Division final

It was the weekend for upsets in high school basketball, and Westchester did its part on Saturday night, knocking off No. 2-seeded Fairfax, 66-59, in the City Section Open Division semifinals at Roybal High.

It came a day after the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and Chino Hills, were beaten Friday night in the Southern Section Open Division semifinals.

It was left for top-seeded Birmingham to take care of buisness, and the Patriots (26-3) responded with an 80-73 win over Taft to earn their first-ever upper-division championship game appearance. They will face Westchester on Saturday night at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

“It’s something special,” Birmingham guard Deschon Winston said. “This is everybody’s dream in high school.”


Devonaire Doutrive scored 23 points and Winston had 20. Antwan January led Taft with 24 points.

Westchester was 0-2 against Fairfax in the Western League, twice losing in the final seconds. This time, the officials started calling a barrage of fouls, and the Comets were the beneficiaries. Starters Kirk Smith, Ethan Anderson and Millard Hill all fouled out for Fairfax (25-4), and Westchester made 29 of 34 free throws.

“The kids played well — at least the whole game — and didn’t take a quarter off,” Westchester Coach Ed Azzam said.

The decisive moment came with 5:11 left in the third quarter. Smith, the primary rebounder and shot blocker for Fairfax, got into a skirmish with a Westchester player and was charged with technical and personal fouls, giving him five fouls on the night. Without him, Fairfax fell behind by 12 points at the end of the third quarter.

“I thought the game was over,” Westchester guard Jordan Brinson said. “They kept competing.”

Jamal Hartwell, coming to the rescue, scored eight consecutive points and led a 12-0 Fairfax run. The Lions took a 57-56 lead with 4:04 left on a basket by Shawn Booker.

But the Lions’ lack of inside muscle and West-chester’s ability to make free throws proved too much for Fairfax to overcome.

Darryl Everage finished with 14 points, Brinson scored 12, Marquis Moore 11 and Chris Simmons 10. Hartwell led Fairfax with 22 points and Anderson had 16.

“It was very intense and very physical,” Brinson said. “Coach told us to compete.”

Said Fairfax Coach Steve Baik: “I’m proud of my kids but it hurts.”

In an Open Division girls’ semifinal, Fairfax rallied from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Granada Hills, 68-63, in overtime.

The Lions got 30 points from Dawnyel Lair and 17 from Fatou Semebane, whose basket with 13.1 seconds left in regulation tied the score, 58-58.

Fairfax, the No. 1 seed, will play Western League rival Palisades in the final Saturday at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Kayla Williams scored 28 points and Chelsey Gipson had 27 in Palisades’ 75-60 win over El Camino Real.

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @latsondheimer