The patience of Narbonne Coach Anthony Hilliard in waiting for his group of football athletes to come out for basketball is paying off big time.
Loaded with athletes who can run, jump, play defense and be tough at all times, the Gauchos find themselves playing for a City Section Open Division championship after knocking off Fairfax, 51-40, on Saturday night at Roybal in a semifinal game.
Members of the state championship football team made huge contributions, particularly All-City safeties Jamal Hicks and Daniel Brown on defense. Hicks finished with 12 points. D'Mauria Jones led the Gauchos (23-6) with 17 points.
Narbonne opened a 17-3 lead in the first quarter and led at halftime, 31-11. Fairfax (28-4) got as close as 10 points in the second half. Ethan Anderson led Fairfax with 13 points, but the Lions missed Donald Gipson, who made a brief appearance in the first quarter. He has been dealing with the flu for two weeks.
Hilliard, who guided Gardena to a City Section Division II title in 2013, has already accomplished something no coach in Narbonne history has pulled off _ getting the team into its first upper division championship game next Saturday at 8 p.m. at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
"The main thing is getting the kids to play hard and not fear any team you're playing against," Hilliard said.
Narbonne will play Westchester in the final. Westchester defeated Dorsey, 65-57, with Keith Fisher scoring 23 points and getting 13 rebounds. Lafayette Dorsey had 23 points for the Dons.
In Division II, Venice defeated South Gate, 73-66. Christian Morataya had 19 points. Cameron Ybarra led South Gate with 22 points.
Joel Towers' 21 points led Bernstein past Eagle Rock, 77-70.
In Division III, Lincoln defeated Vaughn, 62-45. Robert Kennedy defeated Van Nuys, 70-64.