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Lions in pursuit of city championship

By Aaron Blevins, 2/28/2013

Fairfax girls team to face Narbonne in Saturday’s match-up

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Following its 56-49 victory over University High on Saturday, the Fairfax High School girls basketball team will once again compete for a city championship, the team’s fourth opportunity in two decades.

Fairfax has reached its fourth city championship game in the last 22 years. (photo by Aaron Blevins)

The Lions (24-5, 11-1) will face Narbonne (22-7-1, 10-1-1) at 6 p.m. on Saturday for the 2013 CIF LA City Section Girls Basketball Championship at Cal State, Dominguez Hills. The Gauchos defeated Fairfax is last year’s city championship.

“There’s a lot of unfinished business here,” Fairfax coach Judi Edwards said.

Under Edwards, the team has garnered one city championship — in 2006-07. To earn another title, the Lions must stay focused, a task that has evaded the team when they build a big lead, Edwards said.

“They’re doing better, but we seem to always have a quarter where we have a lapse in attention,” she said, attributing that to the team’s youth. “We can only sustain so much focus for a period of time.”

Edwards said that shouldn’t be a problem against No. 1-seeded Narbonne, as she expects a close game. On Jan. 5, the Gauchos beat Fairfax 61-52 in the L.A. City Showcase. Narbonne jumped ahead 16-7 in the first quarter, but the Lions tied the game at the half, 26-26. Narbonne outscored Fairfax 21-8 in the third, and didn’t let up, despite Fairfax’s 18-point fourth quarter.

“Narbonne is a very physical team and they hustle a lot,” Edwards said. “We must, without a doubt, be big on the boards.”

Fairfax crashed the boards well against University, accumulating 55 rebounds, 18 of which were on the offensive end. The Lions also had seven blocks and three steals, while shooting 37 percent and committing 16 turnovers.

Fairfax was up 30-15 at halftime, but University (21-10, 6-6) tied the game by the end of the third quarter. The Lions, though, outscored the Wildcats in the final frame, 19-12.

Senior John’ea Thompson led the team in scoring with 14, though Fairfax had four players in double digits. Sophomore Marguerite Effa led the Lions with 15 rebounds, six of which were on the offensive glass. Thompson had 14 rebounds, and junior Ilianna Blanc had 13.

Edwards said the No. 3-seeded Lions have played quality defense throughout its playoff victories against Verdugo Hills (12-17, 4-8), Palisades (13-20, 8-4) and University. She said the team is pressuring the ball, closing out on shots and rebounding well.

“Their D has been very tenacious,” Edwards added.

The Gauchos come into the city championship after defeating El Camino Real (20-7, 9-1) by a score of 47-39. Narbonne also defeated Fremont (6-13, 5-7) and Huntington Park (13-15, 7-5).

The Fairfax boys basketball team’s season came to a close on Tuesday, when Narbonne (16-12, 9-3) defeated the Lions, 74-71. Though the team had lost to Palisades on Feb. 19 in the city playoffs, the boys team was playing for a shot at regionals. The California Interscholastic Federation created an open division in its tournament this year, allowing “exceptional” teams to play “the best of the best,” according to the federation. If an L.A. City Section team is selected to the open division, Fairfax may have had an opportunity to replace that team in its respective division.

 

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