LA South & Inland Empire:
State title defense starts with defense

In the back of their minds, the Westchester basketball players are thinking about Mater Dei and a potential matchup between the teams ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the state by ESPN Rise, but for that dream matchup to come to fruition in the Southern California Regional final March 20, the teams must first tend to a few matters of business.

Westchester, the defending state champion, did its part Tuesday, using a staunch defense to frustrate Ontario Colony and the Comets cruised to a 77-42 victory in the first round of the Southern California Regional championships Tuesday at Westchester.

The Comets (28-3), ranked No. 2 in the state, held Colony to 25.5% shooting and limited the Titans to just four field goals over the second and third quarters.

“They are ranked as high as they are for a reason,” said Colony Coach Jerry DeFabiis. “They are as good as advertised. They take up a lot of space out there and played some remarkable defense on us.”

Colony, which relies on three-point shooting, could muster only one of 11 from behind the arc in the first half and six of 28 for the game.

“Our defense is pretty good,” Westchester Coach Ed Azzam said. “We had guys in their face all night.”

Jordin Mayes had 19 points and Dwayne Polee added 18 to lead the Westchester offense, even though no Westchester starter played more than 22 minutes in the rout.

It gave the Comets plenty of time to rest up for a matchup Thursday against the winner of a game between Clovis East and Santa Monica. It also allowed them to think ahead to that potential clash with Mater Dei.

“It’s hard not to think about it,” Polee said. “But at the same time we need to focus on getting there. We just have to play our game each night and if it happens, it happens.”

Azzam acknowledged a potential showdown with Mater Dei is on everybody’s mind but said getting there is more important than the opponent.

“We want to be in that game,” he said. “If we make it and Mater Dei doesn’t, then that’s not on me. Us getting there is on me. There are a lot of good teams in Division I, so we have a lot of work to do before we get there.”