With Ebekwe on the bench for long stretches, Carson still rolled to the tourney title with an 80-53 victory over Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach in the final. Ebekwe finished with 14 points, but the team's high scorer was 2002 All-State freshman pick Bryan Harvey, who scored 20.
"I was glad we were able to respond when he got into that early foul trouble," Masson said. "With him out, the kids still in there were at least able to maintain the lead and actually built it even a little more."
Masson's team figures to be a top contender in the L.A. City Section this season, even though Ray Reese, who was another freshman standout on last year's team, left to go to Westchester. The Colts won last week's tourney despite another starter from last season, 6-2 junior Mike Johnson, not playing due to a hip pointer. Six-foot-one junior Greg Mayfield also has been out of action while healing a broken arm. Masson said both Johnson and Mayfield should be back soon.
There's no doubt, though, that Ebekwe's continued development as a multi-faceted post player will be the key as to how far Carson will go this season.
"He's more of a two-dimensional threat now," Masson said. "He's much better around the basket and he's been making more of a concerted effort to score. He's also become much more of a team leader."
Masson said he'd put this year's squad on the same level with any other in the L.A. City Section, including defending Div. I state champ Westchester.
MORE STATEWIDE BOYS BASKETBALL UPDATES:
•By a 4-3 vote of the Compton Unified School District board on Tuesday night of this week, Russell Otis will once again be the head coach of the Dominguez High boys basketball team. Otis hasn't coached since the 1999-2000 season when the Dons were the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. He was arrested just before the start of the 2000-2001 season due to a complaint by a former player that Otis had molested him. Otis was acquitted of those charges in April of 2001, but was fired two months earlier by the Compton district. The Dons were coached for the 2000-2001 season by Steve Singleton, a former assistant coach under Otis. Mack Calvin coached the team last year and resigned following a 15-12 season. Otis had a career record of 349-62 from 1988 to 2000 in his earlier stint at Dominguez for an 84.9 winning percentage. He was to start coaching this year's team immediately.
•If the Stoneridge Prep boys basketball program doesn't want to get the reputation for one that runs up the score against a hopelessly outmatched opponent, it either needs to do some rescheduling or find other creative ways to keep the score at least a tiny bit respectable. Only a year after Stoneridge Prep won by 148-23 over Bridges Academy, the Tigers won by 151-5 last week over South Bay of Torrance. The 151 points for one team goes into the state record book in a tie for second on the all-time list. The only total higher is the 156 scored by San Francisco Balboa in a 1993 game against San Francisco O'Connell. The 146-point winning margin for Stoneridge Prep is a state record, surpassing the team's own 125-point margin when it beat Bridges Academy. James Spencer was the Tigers' top scorer with 35 points. They were coached last year by Jack Pollon, now an assistant at a bigger school. This year's team is coached by Ron Slater. South Bay only scored three points in the first half and didn't get its second basket until just a few minutes were left in the game.
•Leon Powe seems to be back almost to full strength for the Oakland Tech basketball team. Powe, the All-American who missed all of the high profile summer events with a knee injury, scored 21 points last week as the Bulldogs won their second game of the season, 73-58, over Kennedy of Richmond. Devin Peal turned in a strong game for Kennedy by scoring 28 points.
•Nationally-ranked Fairfax of Los Angeles looked as good as its ranking in winning last week's Pacific Shores tourney. Coach Harvey Kitani's club downed Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (the preseason state No. 1 for Div. III) in the title game, 61-48. Point guard Kevin Bell was named tourney MVP, but Josh Shipp and Jason Gildene also played well for the Lions. Long Beach Poly took third in the event with a 74-56 win over Long Beach Jordan. Inglewood, Redondo and Rolling Hills Prep also were in the field.
•Preseason state No. 1 Westchester of Los Angeles opened its season by winning its own tourney. In the finals, the Comets took out San Diego No. 1 Horizon by 73-59. A 21-12 third quarter broke open a tight game. Jared Dudley of Horizon was the game's top scorer with 26 points. Scott Cutley had 22 to lead Westchester, while tourney MVP Trevor Ariza scored 14.
•Garces of Bakersfield, which will defend local honor on Dec. 18-21 at our own California Prep Invitational (co-sponsored by Student Sports), won the BCW Kiwanis Tournament in Fresno last Saturday with a 95-52 romp past Jesuit of Carmichael in the final. MVP Kyle Shiloh scored 24 pts and 7-0 junior Robert Swift had 18 pts to go with 25 rebounds. Garces did have two relatively close games in the tourney against Clovis (79-66) and Madera (77-66).