High School Basketball
Public Schools Reclaiming Dominance from Private

POINTING OT GREATNESS: Fairfax High head coach Reggie Morris Jr. joined his father Reggie Sr. as the only Black father/son duo to ever win City basketball championships when he led the Lions to an Open Division victory over King Drew. (Brianna Ingram/Photo)

Southern California Regional high school basketball champions will be crowned over the next week and begin advancing to Sacramento for the CIF State Championships at Sleep Train Arena, but a new ominous trend is taking fold as public schools appear to be reclaiming their dominance over their private foes.

In the CIF Southern Section, the most dominant sports programs have long tended to be those deep pocketed private schools which has the resources to house and cover elaborate tuition fees for under privilege students who hail from improvised or poor communities.

With the lure of a better education than what public schools have long been castigated for, many talented players abandon their public school for the opportunity of a lifetime at a private school.

Because these schools for the rich and famous are flush with a reservoir of resources that affords student/athletes advantages that are not available in public schools they challenge for and win most of the sectional championships in the Southern, respectively.

However, if the most recent sectional championships provide any indication as to what the future holds, then public is back.

Both CIF-SS Open Division titles for the girls and boys were won by Inland Empire public schools, Centennial of Corona and Etiwanda, respectively.

Centennial won most their games by at least 20 points and Etiwanda polished off Sierra Canyon which has arguably the best girl player in the nation in Ju Ju Watkins, left  private school Windward for the lure of a title with Sierra Canyon only to get bum rushed by the Lady Eagles which remained undefeated on the season.

Harvard Westlake, a neighboring private school in Studio City, will now pose a big threat to Sierra Canyon which suited up a McDonalds All American in UCLA bound Amir Bailey as well as Bronny James has not won a boys championship in two seasons now.

It may be all over for perennial power Mater Dei and coach Gary McKnight which is being tested to get out of Trinity League and is struggling to attract the elite talent that has been theirs for the taking before.

Centennial is now the new standard and with the influence of club teams such as Compton Magic which has a stronghold in the IE, the advantage of going to private schools with a bunch a stranger’s instead of going to school with your childhood friends is minimized.

Lawndale girls captured the CIF-SS D-4AA title, the only other public school to win a sectional title in the CIF-SS.

Meanwhile, in the LA City Section the roar of the crowd is back and the talent may be as well.

The shrinking Black population in LAUSD, thanks to mass Mexican immigration and the influx of charter schools, has eliminated traditional stalwarts such as Fremont and Dorsey, save for Crenshaw, Fairfax Westchester and the likes of King Drew of Watts.

Crenshaw and head coach Ed Waters were within 3 points of creating a storied Crenshaw Westchester D-1 Final.

Grant did not oblige and then upset Westchester and its first Black coach Dewitt Cotton to capture the championship.

Reggie Morris Jr., was just an infant when his father Reggie Sr. was piloting Manual Arts during the glory years of City basketball.

The Morris father and son duo became the first Black father/son tandem to win  City championships, when Reggie Jr. led No. 2 seed Fairfax to the Open Division crown over King Drew on Feb. 26.

It wasn’t the days of old when the Sports Arena was packed and 14,000 showed up, but the stands at Roybal were full to the brim, on the heels of COVID, a pretty remarkable show indeed.

Morris Jr., has won titles at Leuzinger where he coached Russell Westbrook who attended the game, St. Bernard and Redondo, and has stamped himself as one of the top coaches in the country.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here