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SoCalHoops High School News

Big Matchup Tonight:
Fairfax @ Westchester--(Jan. 9, 2001)

This is just a league game. . . "just" is probably not the right word when talking about a game which has huge implications for both schools.   Right now, Westchester has achieved some measure of national notoriety and acclaim, and is ranked among the top groups of teams in most of the national polls. . . . On the Fox Fab 50, Westchester is No. 5; in the National Prep Poll (Jamie DeMoney and Jeremy Plowman) the Comets are ranked No. 18, and in USA Today, Westchester is also ranked No. 5. . .   Fairfax is no longer ranked, but they still have some of the top players on the West Coast, including Craig Smith, Evan Burns, BJ Bell, while Westchester goes about 11 deep. . . and that's just their starters, with guys like Hassan Adams, Chad Bell, Keith Everage, Brandon Bowman, etc, ad infitum.  Of course, keeping something like 11 starters happy at Westchester, considering you can realistically only have 5 on the court at a time, might be a problem at most high schools, but it doesn't seem to be presenting any problems for Coach Ed Azzam, Westchester's head coach.

We ran into Ed at the USC game last Saturday night against Washington, and it was an eclectic mix of people in the same section:  Willie West from Crenshaw was there with one of his assistants (no players though), Azzam was there with his children (no they don't play at Westchester, at least not yet), and Glenn Marx, head coach at Mira Costa was also there watching the action with one of his players, Chase Wixom (6'-5" Sr. G/F), who actually has an interesting story in his own right that we won't get into here. . . but back to Westchester:

"I really don't worry about who is starting and who isn't," Azzam told us.  "We're so deep right now that it's just a pleasure having all of this talent in one place, and none of the kids is really getting anxious or worrying about who starts and who doesn't," he explained.   "Right now we're not even worrying about national rankings.  We just want to win, and make a statement by winning the City title and then move on to the State Tournament,"   Azzam said.  "If the best we do this year is get ranked No. 5 or 8 or 3 or even No. 1, that's pretty good too, and that's more than most players ever achieve.   But we want to win State and we think we've got a shot," Azzam told us.

Both Westchester and Fairfax had the week off for the holiday break, and Azzam thought that was a good thing, considering all the traveling that the Comets have done. "I don't think next year we'll travel as much.  We were on the road two weeks in a row during the holidays, and it was very beneficial for the kids to get a week off, because they needed it," Azzam said.

Westchester finished the holiday tournament and preseason events with a record of 13-1.  Fairfax also played in some high exposure events, including up in Oregon at the Les Schwab Tires Oregon Hoops Invitational (which also featured Compton Dominguez), and at the Torrey Pines National Prep Classic.  While their results weren't as stellar as Westchester's, this league contest between the two teams could very well be a prelude to the City Championship game.

Ordinarily as in years past, the Fairfax v. Westchester series (they play twice in league) would have been part of both the Double Pump Hoop Challenge (this Saturday) and the Dream Classic (this Monday), but due to a change in the City Section's view of "extravaganza" events, City Section teams are restricted in kinds of events they can participate in, and when they can and can't play (i.e., legal holidays).  We're a bit hazy on the details of the City Section's Athletic Commission's ruling on this subject right now (we reported it back in April or May of last year, but right now don't have the time to again research it. . . you can if you're interested try to find it by looking in the archives, using the "Search SoCalHoops" function. . .but we don't have the time right now).    In any event, neither team is participating in any MLK events, and thus, the league contest will be played at Westchester tonight, at 7:00 p.m. according to our best information.

Of course, if it turns out the game time or location has changed, don't blame us. . .

See you there.

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