March Madness can wait, a Frenzied February unfolds this week as the high school basketball season swings into the race for championships, but you will likely have to look beyond Inglewood for a title contender.
The local girls and boy’s teams at Inglewood and Morningside, respectively, will have just one representative in the CIF Southern Section playoffs with the Monarchs boys’ squad the only team to qualify.
Head coach Donnell Meekins returned for his second stint and has already did something that had not been accomplished in 27 years. The Monarchs defeated rival Inglewood twice, winning the final game of the regular season 80-75 to clinch third place in the Pioneer League and qualify for the post season.
Morningside girls more than doubled their win total from last season going 6-14, but failed to win a league game in 10 tries.
The Sentinels girls finished level at 14-14, but only 3-7 in league and the boy’s team went 11-12, 4-6 and missed the playoffs.
While Meekins and Morningside figure to face a most difficult road ahead, there is now a flicker of hope that better days might be around the corner.
Morningside played Pasadena Poly on Feb. 12th. Poly went an impressive 23-4, but Morningside was optimistic at press time.
Meanwhile, not all is lost for the City of Inglewood, as local homeboys Reggie Howard and Pookey Wigington will lead Ribet into the CIF-SS D-2A bracket as the top seed team. Ribet is among the top ranked teams in the state with a 21-6 record with victories over St. Bernard and Fairfax. The Frogs will open at home on Feb. 14.
Howard is the head coach and grew up in Inglewood and played at St Bernard, while Wigington is his assistant and starred at Morningside.
Elsewhere, Westchester’s girls and boys earned high seeds in the Los Angeles City Section tournament. The Comets (19-8) boy team finished second in the Western League to Fairfax and earned a No. 2 seed in the Open Division, while the girls finished below .500 at 12-15 went 8-4 in league but still earned the top seed in Division 1.
This Comet team has blown massive leads against rivals Fairfax and been blown away by CIF-SS Open Division power Etiwanda twice, but veteran coach Ed Azzam is hoping for one clean stretch during the time they usually perform their best.
Westchester will host Washington Prep on Feb. 14.
Ironically, the day before Kobe Bryant succumbed in a helicopter accident, he was scheduled to meet the boys basketball team and present them with his signature Kobe V sneakers.
Lawndale Leuzinger girls went 20-8 on the season and finished strong to make the CIF-SS D-2 tourney. The Olympians open against Summit in Fontana on Feb. 13 in a win or go home match-up.