City Section Team of the Decade? It’s not even close.
While most eyes were focused on Mater Dei’s quest for perfection that ended against Riverside King, Westchester won their seventh City title this decade and reminded folks why they’ve been nationally ranked all year.
With their combination of balance, toughness and unselfishness, it’s no surprise that they are perhaps the favorite to win the state regional tournament as they host a semifinal game tonight.
It’s ironic how entering this year, both Westchester and Mater Dei haven’t won a section title since 2006. But while the Monarchs were tossed off their throne, the Comets rose to the occasion and held off a strong Taft team to end the drought.
Not counting 2004 when they were ineligible from postseason play, the Comets made the City finals in all but one year. They won seven of those eight championship appearances – including a 27-game winning streak from 2000 to the 2007 final – and went on to win three state championships (2002, 2003, 2005).
The one-year they didn’t reach the City finals, they were derailed by a one-man comeback from Fairfax center Renardo Sidney in last year’s semifinals.
Their run rivals what Crenshaw did in the 1980’s when they reached eight City finals, winning six, and won four state titles. You can argue when Crenshaw did in the 1990’s was better when in five seasons (1993-97), they won five City and four state championships but since we’re talking decades of dominance, the 1980’s is what we’re going by.
And the players Westchester produced? At the start of this season, they had six players in the NBA (Trevor Ariza, Bobby Brown, Amir Johnson, Gabe Pruitt, Jason Hart and Hassan Adams). One reporter told me that almost as many as some of the other sections have total.
All except Hart played this decade and that doesn’t account for players who had great college careers such as Ashanti Cook, Brandon Bowman and Scott Cutley.
It may be too soon to think about Westchester passing Crenshaw’s record of 16 City championships. Winning seven more titles in the next decade might be harder to do but if Ed Azzam and his staff decide to stick around for it, they can make serious progress on it.
So sit back and appreciate this run that the Comets have been on. Regardless of what happens in the state regional tournament this week, it’s something that fans of the City Section will remember for a long time…
Keeping in line with the theme of Westchester, I’m going out on a limb here and make the case that senior guard Dominique O’Connor should be City Section Player of the Year.
With all due respect to Sidney and the way he impacts games with his size, O’Connor, a foot smaller at 5-10, dominates the game with his combination of speed, court awareness, penetrating ability and on-ball defense.
In the City final, he only had eight points but he had eight assists and it seemed that his buckets all came when the team needed them. He was the captain of a talented ship that sailed its way to a City championship and as Taft showed last year with Larry Drew, you can’t underestimate the value of a strong point guard.
I’d actually have no problem if the two shared the award, but if you had to pick one winner, you have to go with the guy that led his team to a City title, hit clutch baskets and exemplified the toughness and unselfish attitude of this Westchester team…