Westchester High boys’ basketball coach Ed Azzam and Fairfax High boys’ basketball coach Harvey Kitani have been friends for a long time. Both men have shared some intense battles on the basketball court.
Both have been successful in their careers as teachers and coaches, guiding students in a positive direction. Their teams have won several Los Angeles City Section championships and a few state championships as well, helping produce many college graduates and several NBA players as well.
Each year, alumni from Westchester and Fairfax return to help Azzam and Kitani support, mentor and inspire the current players.
But no matter how deep the sentiments, Azzam and Kitani will meet again, but not to share wings, chips and soda and talk about the good old City Section days. Westchester (21-11) and Fairfax (29-2) will play for the inaugural City Section Open Division championship at 8 p.m. March 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Westchester is led mostly by Ellis Salahuddin, Keith Fisher, Jordan Terrell and L.T. Taylor and its traditionally sound bench. The return of Akil Hall-Reese helped the Comets to a convincing win over Dorsey in the semifinals Feb. 28.
Fairfax earned its spot in the finals behind the leadership of Lorne Currie and Lindsey Drew, helped by the support of post players Foster Dixson and Babacar Thiombane as the Lions pulled away in the second half to defeat El Camino Real in the other semifinal at Roybal High. Fairfax’s only losses this year were to powerful Mater Dei and Westchester.
In other City boys basketball championship, LACES will face View Park at 7 p.m. March 5 at Roybal Learning Center in the Division IV final.
Bernstein will play Franklin at 8 p.m. March 6 at Roybal in the Division III final.
Hamilton and Grant will meet at 11 a.m. March 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills in the Division II finals.
In the countdown to the girls L.A. City Championships, Narbonne was in then out and then back in again after a controversy over uniform colors. The Lady Gauchos wore uniforms with pink letters and numbers to raise awareness for breast cancer in their semifinal win over View Park, 57-52, Feb. 28.
On Monday, Narbonne was informed by L.A. City Athletic Commissioner John Aguirre that it had not obtained the necessary waiver to change uniforms and thus would have to forfeit the win over View Park. On Tuesday, officials decided to reverse that decision, reinstating Narbonne, but suspending coach Victoria Sanders from the March 7 championship game for the violation.
Narbonne will play Palisades at 6 p.m. March 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills for the girls City Open Division championship.
In other City Section girls’ championship games, LACES will play Animo South Los Angeles at 5 p.m. March 5 at Roybal Learning Center in the Division IV title game.
Legacy will play Poly at 6 p.m. March 6 at Roybal Learning Center in the Division III title game. Poly has won its last three games by 60, 23 and 22 points.
Two Eastside schools, Garfield and Eagle Rock face off at 9 a.m. March 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills in a rematch of last year’s Division II finals, which was won by Eagle Rock.
These two powerful teams met in last year’s finals and are at it again in the Division II finals.
In the Division I championship game, Westchester will play Bell at 1 p.m. March 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.