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Having already won the Western League title and virtually locked up the top seed in the City Division I playoffs, it is a challenge for Westchester to find motivation in the final week of the regular season.
That is why head coach was not too happy about his team’s performance in a 63-51 win over University on Wednesday night.
The Comets had a comfortable 52-37 lead over the Wildcats at the end of the third quarter, and looked to be cruising to another easy victory, before Azzam noticed that his team was not giving much effort or any for that matter in the fourth quarter.
“There was no effort defensively and offensively there was no semblance of order,” Azzam said. “I don’t even know what to say, I’m frustrated with them.”
Even though three players scored in double figures for Westchester (24-5, 11-0 Western League), including Elijah Stewart who led the team with 28 points and nine rebounds, Azzam stressed that his team needs to play better defense and be in sync offensively.
Venice has had a tough time in the Western League this season, but nearly upset Fairfax 91-85 on Wednesday.
The game was tied late in the fourth quarter.
Venice’s Dewan Thompson had 28 points in the game for the Gondoliers.
Fairfax put away Venice early to claim the outright Western League title with a 65-22 victory over the Gondoliers, Wednesday night.
Marguerite Effa had a game-high in both points and rebounds for the Lions. The junior finished with 23 and 13 respectively.
Ilianna Blanc added 14 points, along with eight assists, seven rebounds, six steals, and three blocks.
The Lions led Venice by 21 points at the end of the first quarter.
Fairfax (24-6, 11-0) will attempt to remain undefeated in the Western League when they host University in their season finale on Friday.
After a sluggish start and trailing by two at halftime, University quickly turn things around with a second half surge in an important 67-55 Western League victory over Westchester on Wednesday.
Precious Nwaba had 38 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter alone. It was impressive feat considering Westchester’s defensive focused entirely on her.
“Had to play hard; knew our team had to win,” said Nwaba. “They were playing a box-and-one [defense], so I had to find a way to get the ball and I did.” said Nwaba.
University has leaned on Precious Nwaba throughout the entire season but rarely does a single player outscore an entire team.
That happened on Monday as the junior scored 47 points and her first-ever triple-double of her career in a 79-39 victory.
Nwaba also had 13 rebounds and 11 steals.
It was a big change the last time they faced the Yankees as Nwaba had only 12 points as early foul trouble limited her time on the court.
Fairfax clinched a share of the Western League title and most likely the number one seed in the City Division I playoffs with a 69-42 victory over Westchester.
Marguerite Effa had a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds including making 15 0f 16 shots from the free throw line.
Yolanda Ealy and Karina Moreno both finished in double figures for Fairfax (23-6, 10-0 Western League). Ealy had 12 points and Morena added 10.
Trent Jones had a career-high 22 points and five LACES players finished in double-figures in a 93-62 blowout of Venice.
Jones made five of the Unicorns’ ten three-points baskets and also had five assists in the game.
LACES (10-12, 2-7 Western League) more than doubled up on Venice (7-18, 2-8) at halftime by holding a 38 point advantage at 70-32.
Both Evan Battey and Khalil Taylor finished with double-doubles for the Unicorns.
Westchester swept the season series against Palisades in a 68-48 victory at home on Wednesday to remain unbeaten in the Western League.
The Comets (21-5, 8-0 Western League) jumped out early taking a 12-point lead after the first quarter of play and had a 39-22 advantage at halftime.
Westchester’s Elijah Stewart had 18 of his 24 points in the first half and Myles Stewart added 15 points.
Joe Robinson led the Dolphins (13-10, 6-3) with 15 points.
Fairfax continued to roll in the Western League as they won their tenth consecutive game in a 64-43 victory over Hamilton on Wednesday.
Both Ilianna Blanc and Marguerite Effa finished with double-doubles as the Lions had a 20-point halftime lead.
Blanc scored 17 points with 14 rebounds. Effa had a game-high 22 points and 14 rebound.
Point guard Karina Moreno added 12 points and a season-high eight assists.
Fairfax used their height advantage and a quick start in a 72-44 victory over University and claimed sole possession of third place in the Western League.
Olisaemeka Nwachie led the Lions with 18 points as they jumped out to a 16-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
CJ Sinada had another good shooting night for University (15-9, 3-3 Western League) with 22 points off of five three-pointers.
Palisades’ Jennifer Krems and Venice’s Kristen Shekelle were named the Western League co-Players of the Year by a vote of league coaches.
Krems had a 51 percent kill average while leading led the Dolphins to a the Western League title and the City Division I finals where they lost to Granada Hills in straight sets.
Shekelle, an opposite hitter and setter, led Venice with 403 kills along with 351 assists.
She helped the Gondoliers finish 33-10-1 as they failed to repeat as Division II champs in a heartbreaking loss to Van Nuys in five sets after leading 2-0.
Four Palisades and Venice players earned first team honors, followed by three players from Fairfax.
Westchester is the only school that did not have anyone represented on the first or second team.
A list of All-Western League players is below:
Venice may have fell short of winning a city championship, but their performance was good enough to earn quarterback Alexander Diamont and wide receiver/returner DaJuan Parham co-Western League Player of the Year honors by a vote of the conference coaches.
Diamont, a three-year starter, threw for 47 touchdowns and 3,501 yards this season and Parham was dominate on special teams as he returned multiple punts for touchdown against Fairfax and Locke.
Venice players won other award categories as running back Alijah Lee was named Offensive Player of the Year while linebacker Tayon Blockman and Joey Dews were named Defensive Players of the Year.
Palisades’ Nick Lunn is the Offensive Lineman of the Year; University’s Jameel Baker and Anthony Spinner of Hamilton were Defensive Linemen of the Year.
The All-Western League First and Second teams honors are listed below:
When trying to figure out a recipe for a successful team, hiring a head coach just weeks before the start of the season is not among your standard ingredients.
For the Venice High softball team and first-year head coach Daniel Soto, the mixture could not have been a better match.
After finishing fourth in the Western League a year ago, the Gondoliers (17-3-1) need one more victory to win their first conference title in six years and will likely earn the top-seed when the Division II playoffs are announced in a couple of weeks.
The change from a middle of the road team to a city contender that is undefeated in league play is not lost on the players.
“It’s a different mentality. We are not just shooting for a win, but for playoffs and winning everything,” said captain and senior third baseman Bernadette Moran.
Sometimes when you recieve a generous gift, your immediate response to return the gesture in kind.
That what University nearly did in picking up a big Western League victory on the road in wild seventh inning of an 10-5 win over Westchester.
Leading 6-3, University seemed to break the game open when Miguel Solis single to right field cleared the bases on an error by Westchester’s JT Taylor and was able to score on a throwing error by catcher Aaron Greenfield to give the Wildcats a seven-run lead.
Instead of cruising to an easy three outs, University relief pitcher Isaac Yoshinaga decided to make things a little more interesting.
It seemed like deja vu for Beverly Hills.
That was the feeling in the Swim Gym when Normans had the ball and trailing by one to Santa Monica.
Unlike their heartbreaking loss earlier this month to the Vikings, this time Brandon Neman made sure that the game would not slip away.
The junior guard’s only shot was a successful three-pointer in the final seconds to give the Normans a stunning 52-50 victory over Santa Monica.
Neman, who hadn’t been played for most of the night, stepped up when it mattered the most.