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Time to say goodbye to another outstanding year in prep sports. And what a year 2008 was.
(Before we look back, some late congratulations to Los Angeles Jordan quarterback/defensive end James Boyd and Dominguez linebacker Marquis Simmons for making the USA TODAY All-USA Team.)
In basketball, we saw the definition of teamwork with Taft's starting five winning the City Section title. We saw how to overcome adversity with Narbonne's girls team winning City and coming within seconds of upsetting Long Beach Poly in the regionals.
We watched a program regain its pride in Dominguez winning the Southern Section and Division I Southern California Regional championship.
We saw a dynasty achieve a three-peat with the Long Beach Poly girls' team winning its third consecutive Division I state title.
We appreciated the beauty of a sweet-swinging power hitter from Compton Centennial named Chris Smith and cheered as he was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Yankees.
It's people like him and Cameron Hart of Crenshaw and other seniors and coaches who show that baseball is slowly coming back to the Black community and in a decade, you'll see that I'm right.
I have to give thanks to Crenshaw's softball team, who personally changed my view on watching the sport.
Those who missed out on their run to the Invitational title, the power of junior Alia Williams, the grit of senior pitcher Lindsey Irving and the several talented players they bring back this year - make it your New Year's Resolution to check out a game as they'll look to compete for another title.
Dominguez and Poly ended the '07-08 school year with state titles in track-and-field for boys and girls, respectively, while Dorsey clinched another City track-and-field crown.
My favorite story from track-and-field: Getting to know the Washington track program and seeing the smiles on the 1600-meter relay team after they upset Dorsey at City.
The football season has barely been etched into history and the stories from this year will be remembered for a while.
L.A. Jordan playing at a high level despite being outmanned by 40 to 60, Crenshaw proving they are becoming even more of a football school, Serra's team speed burning their way to a 13-1 season, Long Beach Poly grinding their way to their 18th CIF title and of course, Narbonne and San Pedro sharing the City Section title.
Who could have imagined five years ago that Compton would have defeated Dominguez in football and finish the year with a better record? Probably the same people who never thought they'd see Narbonne play for a City championship.
Congratulations to all of the champions of this year. But sadly, 2008 will be remembered for its tragedies as well.
We all shed tears when we heard about Los Angeles High School junior Jamiel Shaw II's senseless murder. But while his passing drew most of the headlines, he was sadly not the only child taken far too soon.
Eric Sims, a member of the Washington football team, was also a victim of gang violence and DeShawn Newton, a freshman on the last Daniel Murphy High School basketball team, passed away from an asthma attack.
It's a stark reminder that sports cannot be a true escape from reality. Nowhere was this true that in the Coliseum where San Pedro's players had a "No. 85" banner in honor of slain teammate LaTerian Tasby, who was murdered at a Halloween party last year.
With that said, look forward to great stories and events in 2009 - starting with either the Pangos Dream Classic or Johnnie Cochran Classic Saturday - and I'll see you on the sidelines.