Despite falling short in many comparisons to the powerful CIF Southern Section boys’ basketball programs, the Los Angeles City Section has managed to hold its own.
The original City Section was once only 49 schools during an era that saw teams from Crenshaw, Manual Arts, Fremont, Jefferson, Carson, Banning, Jordan, Fairfax and Westchester win multiple City championships from the 1950s to the early 2000s.
The section has since expanded to more than 100 schools.
One of the older schools is Dorsey, which won its only City title in 1976. That year James Wilkes and Eric Gaines, both currently assistant coaches at the school, were part of a powerful unit that included Ronald Baxter, Curtis Williams, Clyde Huntley, Lionel Jerrett and Danny Ramsey that beat Crenshaw under coach John Haydel.
This year, however, it’s not the same old City Section. In fact, as a whole, it may have raised its game to a higher level with its own Open Division bracket, with an upcoming doubleheader Feb. 28.
This year’s Dorsey team will try to continue the tradition when it meets a hungry Westchester squad in the first game of a huge Open Division semifinal at 6 p.m. at the Roybal Learning Center in downtown Los Angeles. After that, Fairfax meets El Camino Real at 8 p.m..
In its 80-67 quarterfinal win over visiting Taft Feb. 21, Dorsey (23-5), coached by Kevin Gibson, was mostly led by Tommie Groce, Jonathan Staggers, Cameron Evans, Lafayette Dorsey Jr. and a swarming defense. The Dons were able to repel several Taft comeback attempts after building leads of 11.
Westchester (20-11) had to rebound from a slow start to defeat visiting Crenshaw, Dorsey’s Coliseum League rival, 80-61 Feb. 21. The Comets, coached by Ed Azzam, were led by Ellis Salahuddin, Jordan Terrell, Anthony Onwidiwe and Keith Fisher. Westchester might get a boost if Akil Hall Reese, who has missed this season because of a knee injury last June, returns to the team.
Other City boys’ playoff action has Gardena palying Narbonne and Crenshaw playing Taft Feb. 27 in the Open Division consolation bracket. Other upcoming games have Washington Prep facing Sylmar in a Division I semifinal game Feb. 28; while Los Angeles, King-Drew, Marshall, Hamilton and Huntington Park advanced to the quarterfinals in Division II.
In Division III, Roybal, R.F. Kennedy, Franklin, Lincoln, Chavez and Bernstein advanced.
Division IV finds LACES, Animo South Los Angeles, Jordan, Rancho Dominguez, Downtown Magnets and View Park still alive, while and Dymally, Douglass, Central City Value, Bright Star, Annenberg and Middle College advanced to the Division V quarterfinals.
In the girls’ playoff brackets, Fairfax faces Palisades and View Park faces Narbonne Feb. 28 at Roybal in the Open Division semifinals).
In Division I, Westchester faces Birmingham and Bell battles Roosevelt Feb. 28 at Roybal.
South Gate, Eagle Rock, Marshall, Belmont, Garfield and Huntington Park advanced in the Division II playoffs and Los Angeles, Legacy, Hollywood and King-Drew advanced in Division III.
In Division IV, Animo South Los Angeles, Mendez, LACES, Collins Family, Rancho Dominguez and VAAS advanced, while Douglass, Animo Robinson, Community Charter, Vaughn, Middle College, Ivy Academia and Gertz-Ressler advanced to the quarterfinals in Division V.