In a season in which it captured another Los Angeles city and California state championship, the Westchester High School boys basketball team finished as the top-ranked team nationally, according to MaxPreps, a California-based sports media company.
The Comets are one of ten high school boys basketball teams nationwide that were honored as part of the MaxPreps “Tour of Champions” presented by the Army National Guard. Westchester edged out Jack Yates High School of Houston for the top spot.
Westchester, which finished with the school’s best single-season record of 35-2, put together win streaks of 12, 10 and 13 during the season. The Comets defeated McClymonds of Oakland 49-31 on March 21st to capture their fifth CIF Division I state championship since 1998.
“With more than 40,000 boys and girls basketball teams competing to be the best they can be, the MaxPreps Tour of Champions and the Army National Guard salute the best of the best across America,” said Andy Beal, president of MaxPreps. “We honor the idea that teamwork, hard work and coaching pays dividends on and off the court. With that, we congratulate Westchester High School to be among those we are honoring this year.”
California Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Kenneth Kinney presented Coach Ed Azzam and the team the national ranking trophy at a pep rally at the school Wednesday, April 15th.
Azzam, who was selected as the coach of the year by The Daily Breeze, said, “It’s an honor to be recognized by MaxPreps as the national high school champs. This honor instills pride in the school and the community, and everyone can be proud of the accomplishments of the team.”
The coach called this year’s team “one of the best teams that we’ve ever had.”
“We didn’t have the best players, but they played as a team and worked hard to be the best they could be,” he said. “I called them a swarm of gnats because by the end of the year they were good at taking away the other team’s strength.”
Jordin Mayes led the team in scoring with a 19.8 average, Dominique O’Connor was named the Player of the Year by the Greater Los Angeles Sportswriters Association, and Dwayne Polee averaged 11.2 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Comets.
MaxPreps uses a sophisticated computer program to determine team rank. Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account “quality” wins against other highly ranked opponents, margin of victory, and strength of schedule, according to MaxPreps.