Prep Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Five area teams to play for CIF basketball championships

The Compton High boys basketball team will play for the CIF Southern Section Division 2A championship at noon March 7 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Compton will face Redlands East Valley after defeating La Mirada, 57-52, March 3 in the semifinals.

Compton is 20-10 entering the championship game, while Redlands East Valley is 25-6.

Windward will play for the Division 5AA championship March 7 at 5 p.m. at Godinez High School in Santa Ana against Viewpoint High. One of Windward’s bigger players is 6-7 freshman Shareef O’Neal, the son of former Laker Shaquille O’Neal.

On the girls side, Windward plays for the Division 1AA title at 1:30 p.m. March 7 at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa against the winner of the Etiwanda-Millikan game that was played March 4 after press time. Windward defeated Lynwood, 49-42, in the semifinals March 3 to advance to the title game.

St. Paul plays Fairmont Prep at 5 p.m. March 6 at Godinez High in the Division 4A championship game.

Price plays Rio Hondo Prep in the Division 6 girls championship game at 11 a.m. March 7 at Godinez High.


Abdul-Jabbar writes

young adult novel


NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar helped the Los Angeles Unified School District kick off its ‘Read Across America” program Feb. 27 by appearing at Kingsley Elementary School near Hollywood.

Abdul-Jabbar, who has become an accomplished author in his post-basketball career, shared his latest book, “Stealing the Game,” with students, while also offering some basketball pointers.

“Stealing the Game” is the second installment in the “Streetball Crew” series of young adult novels Abdul-Jabbar is writing.

The book is described as a fast-paced and entertaining story about teamwork, friendship, secrets and having faith in those who have earned it.


Basketball trail blazer

Earl Lloyd dies


Earl Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Feb. 26. He was 86.

“The NBA family has lost one of its patriarchs,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game, was as inspirational as he was understated. He was known as a modest gentleman who played the game with skill, class and pride. His legacy survives in the league he helped integrate, and the entire NBA family will strive to always honor his memory. Our deepest condolences to the Lloyd family.”

Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games.

Ina  statement, the National Basketball Retired Players Association said Lloyd “forever changed the game of basketball” and hailed him as “a leader, a pioneer, a soldier.”

“A truly historic figure in American history has passed,” the statement added.

Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He missed the 1951-52 season while serving in the U.S. Army.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor, Lloyd was 22-55 as Detroit’s coach in 1971-72 and the first nine games in the 1972-73 season.


Exonerated player

gets television series


A former Long Beach high school star whose dream of playing professional football was derailed when he was imprisoned for a rape he did not commit will star in a new unscripted television series investigating a potential case of wrongful conviction.

According to NBC News’ Peacock Productions, the series with Brian Banks will take an in-depth look at the facts and witnesses in a potential wrongful-conviction case.

“Brian has unique insight into the complex world of the criminal justice system,” Sharon Scott, president and general manager of Peacock Productions, said in a statement. “He spent a decade fighting to clear his name and will draw on that experience during his investigation of one captivating case that has all the drama of a scripted series — except it is real.”

Banks was exonerated in May 2012 after a judge in Long Beach agreed to throw out his 2003 conviction for forcible rape involving a girl on the campus of Long Beach Polytechnic High School a year earlier. Banks had dreamed of playing professional football and was expecting to attend USC on a football scholarship when he was arrested.

Banks was exonerated when his accuser recanted her story. He was briefly picked up by the Atlanta Falcons during summer 2013, but he was cut before the season began. He now works in the NFL’s corporate office.

Banks said he is excited to “delve deep into a case, aiming to expose the truth about whether the inmate is rightfully behind bars or if there is reasonable doubt.”