All eyes may be on Fairfax-Westchester Round II Friday night but the rematch between Fremont and Crenshaw will get its fair share of attention too.
The first game on Jan. 14 was marred by a fight that drew suspensions for players on both sides and Fremont Coach Sam Sullivan. The City Section Rules Committee also placed both schools on probation.
The situation escalated when fans got involved and the game was eventually awarded a forfeit to Crenshaw. With Friday's game at Fremont, there will be additional security present.
While that may be the dominant story, it will take away from the fact that Crenshaw could wrap its first Coliseum League title in several years with a victory.
It'll also be a match featuring the league's second and third leading scorers as Fremont senior Tony Freeland (22.5 ppg) and Crenshaw junior Raynaul Baker (19.0 ppg).
Crenshaw (15-3) enters the game at 7-1 in league play while Fremont (13-7) sits a half-game behind at 7-2. Fremont has won league three of the last four seasons – View Park Prep won in 2006-07 – so the winner will be in the driver's seat for the league crown.
Just don't say anything to Crenshaw coach Ed Waters about them being the league favorites.
"We're not taking anything for granted," Waters said after their Jan. 30 win at Jefferson.
As far as diffusing tension, Waters and Sullivan addressed the situation over the phone and had a joint luncheon with their teams.
Waters made it clear that the focus would be on the game – especially since the Pathfinders would be at full strength as Freeland missed the first game with an injury.
While the Depaul-bound senior is a difference maker with his scoring and rebounding, his mates will look to counter Crenshaw's young core, which includes Baker and sharp-shooting junior Abdussamad Zaid.
Besides the league title race, whoever wins could impact the City Section playoff seedings. A Crenshaw victory would be a significant boost in their case for the No. 4 seed while a Fremont victory could shake things up and see a team from the Valley (Reseda or Sylmar) slide in as the favorite.
"It's going to be a war," Waters said.
Tension will be thick on both sides but one can hope that the fans will keep their tensions in the stands and support what should be an intense game…
The 2009 Nike Extravaganza will conclude this basketball weekend on Saturday at Mater Dei High School with a slew of great games as usual.
Even more usual is that Westchester, Fairfax and Dominguez will join host Mater Dei back in the fray for what should be an impressive slate of action
At 4 p.m., Westchester takes on Rainier Beach (Seattle), who took Dominguez to double overtime before losing, Fairfax takes on Chicago's Whitney Young which features Marcus Jordan – whose dad, Michael, you may have heard of – at 5:30 p.m. and Dominguez tangles with one of the state's best in Concord De La Salle at 7 p.m.
Mater Dei – minus the services of senior Andy Brown who tore his ACL last week – will take on nationally ranked St. Benedict's (New Jersey), a game also televised on ESPN2.
Tickets for the evening session will be $12 general admission, $22 in the reserved seating and can be purchased online at ticketswest.com.