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Birmingham Wins City Open Division Title; Westchester’s Ed Azzam to retire

A “great shooter” is the best way to describe the 6.3-foot-tall senior David Elliott from Birmingham of Lake Balboa. Anytime, anywhere, he’s ready to score, and when he hits, the Patriots don’t lose.

Forget there were 15 City Section championship flags hanging on the wall at Westchester High on Saturday night for the Open Division championship game. There was nothing intimidating about the exposed tradition, just added motivation for Elliott to take one to Birmingham. So it was.

The Patriots (11-3) came out strong, opening a 12-point lead at halftime thanks to seven 3-pointers, and never lost their self-confidence to clinch a 73-68 win over the Comets (12-1). top ranked.

Elliott finished with 30 points. His success was contagious. James Nobles, his future teammate at Loyola Marymount, had 16 points. Kris Cook had 15 points. Birmingham made nine 3s off the Comets. Westchester’s top scorer was guard TJ Wainwright, who forced his way into the key on the go. He got 29 points.

“My number 1 goal was to put a trophy in my school and I did it,” Elliott said.

It’s time to start paying attention to what Birmingham coach Nick Halic has been accomplishing. He is gaining a reputation for being able to develop players and win championships. The Patriots eliminated Westchester in 2017 for Halic’s first town title. This was even better by winning on the Westchester court, something that rarely happens with the exception of rival Fairfax’s occasional wins.

The game plan was to put pressure on the Westchester guards and fight for every rebound. The Patriots were winning the fumbles, leading to numerous points. The lead came to 17 points in the second half, but the key basket was an offensive rebound by Jacquan Parchment with 37 seconds left, after the Comets came within four points.

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Westchester was trying to give his coach Ed Azzam the 16th city title, which would have tied him with Willie West of Crenshaw.

Halic was born in 1982, three years after Azzam took over as Westchester’s head coach at age 25. “It’s such a tiring job,” Halic said. “I can’t imagine anyone training for so long.”

However, after the game, Azzam, 66, announced that he would retire after the regional playoffs. “This is the moment,” he said.

Assistant coach Dewitt Cotton was a JV player at Westchester in 1982-83, when the Comets were 0-10 in the league and were crushed by Crenshaw. “He’s pretty much the same,” Cotton said. “He is always the teacher.”

Until 1990-91, Westchester did not win its first city title. Halic understands how difficult it is to beat the Comets, as Azzam is the winningest coach in City history at 932-286, according to CalHiSports.

“He is a legendary coach,” said Halic. “His teams always play hard. I don’t think anyone comes close to his record. “

Halic is certainly on his way.

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