St. Bernard loses in Division II-AA final
WESTCHESTER HIGH SCHOOL
It was a different scene at the end of the Los Angeles City Section Championship Saturday, March 3rd, as the Westchester High School boys basketball team was on the losing side.
The defending city champion Comets suffered their first loss at a city title game this decade in a 55-46 defeat to Western League rival Fairfax High School at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
The Comets (22-6) came into the game after having won 27 consecutive city playoff games and six of the last seven city championships this decade. The only season Westchester hadn’t taken home the city championship trophy was when the Comets were ineligible for the postseason in 2004.
The top-seeded Fairfax Lions (23-5) captured their first city crown by topping the second-seeded Comets for the third time this season.
Both Westchester and Fairfax had already secured a spot in the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) state championship playoffs. Westchester defeated visiting Murrieta Valley High School 70-59 in the first round of the state Division I playoffs Tuesday, March 6th.
The Comets will next host Dorsey High School in the second-round game at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8th.
Fairfax won both Western League battles against Westchester this season to take the league title for the second consecutive year. Last season, the Lions were victorious over Westchester in both league games but fell to the Comets in the city playoffs.
But this season, Fairfax has had Westchester’s number and the Lions were not about to let the Comets repeat what they did last season.
Fairfax wasted no time showing it was ready to rule the city, by jumping out to as much as a 19-point lead in the first quarter, when it held Westchester to just seven points.
The Comets began to warm up and narrowed the gap to single digits by putting 19 points on the scoreboard in the second quarter to head into halftime trailing 34-26.
Fairfax’s star senior forward Chace Stanback, who is headed to UCLA next season, was the top scorer in the second victory over Westchester and continued to give the Comets trouble, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the city championship.
Westchester continued to make a move throughout the third quarter and was able to climb to within 44-43 with 4:45 remaining in the game, but Fairfax maintained the lead and brushed aside the Westchester threat with key free throw shooting in the final minutes.
Junior Oscar Bellfield finished as the top scorer for the Comets with 11 points.
Senior guard Ja’shon Hampton was another key offensive contributor for Fairfax with 18 points and ten rebounds.
ST. BERNARD HIGH SCHOOL
The St. Bernard High School Vikings fought their way past higher-seeded teams to reach the finals of the Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs, but it was there that the magic would run out.
The unseeded Vikings saw their impressive run toward the Division II-AA title come to an end in a 79-63 loss to top-seeded Pasadena High School at the Honda Center in Anaheim Saturday, March 3rd.
St. Bernard (20-11), which finished third in the Del Rey League this season, made a turnaround in the Division II-AA playoffs with victories over higher-seeded Great Oak and Arroyo Valley teams, but could not make Pasadena another victim.
The victory gave Pasadena (30-2) its first championship since 1995.
The Vikings still managed to earn a spot in the CIF state Division IV playoffs and will play at Parker High School of San Diego at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8th.
St. Bernard went into halftime trailing Pasadena by seven points, but the Bulldogs solidified the victory with a 17-0 run in the third quarter.
Senior forward Jourdan Sweeney led St. Bernard with 25 points and junior guard Devin Price added 19 points.
Senior forward Nigel Ajere was the top scorer in the game with 27 points for Pasadena, and senior guard Trevon Harmon finished with 25 points.