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The once-undefeated Fairfax High School boys varsity basketball team, the Lions, suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday against Mater Dei’s Monarchs, 34-47.
The Monarchs, currently 22-3, are ranked 11th nationally, 3rd in the state and occupy the No. 1 spot in their section division, according to MaxPreps.com, a national high school sports website.
Although the Lions dropped from 2nd to 4th in the state and from 11th to 15th nationally, they still hold the No. 1 spot in the city and section division positions. Despite the loss, MaxPreps is predicting that the Lions will remain No. 1 for its section division.
“The week before, we beat Sierra Canyon [Trailblazers]. They’re No. 1 in the state and we beat them. When we set the game up in the spring, it was so that it would prepare us for the coming playoffs,” said Lions coach Harvey Kitani.
The long-time Lions coach is confident that the recent loss will not cast doubt that the team will end the season strong and go on to succeed in the upcoming playoffs.
“We didn’t play our best ball under the conditions [against the Monarchs], but we were able to learn some things and I think we’re going to be a better team from playing last Saturday,” Kitani said.
The Lions, despite their sole loss, are still riding on back-to-back wins throughout the season. They played against Venice High School’s Gondoliers at home on Feb. 9, resulting in a win, 92-50. On Feb. 11, the Lions faced off against their rivals, Westchester Comets, for one final time in the season.
“I think we hold our own destiny by having control over the things we need to do. It’s to play good team championship defense, to play together as a unit and execute,” Kitani said. “We’ve been doing that all year, being able to fight on every play that presents itself and practice with the same principles,” Kitani said.
The Lions have one more game this week and the season is over. They will be facing the Palisades Dolphins at Palisades Charter High School on Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m.
According to CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Los Angeles, high school basketball playoff games are scheduled for Feb. 19 through 28 with city finals on March 6 and 7. The Lions will play their first game in the playoffs on Feb. 21.
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