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Father and son help power Garfield to its first City Section boys’ basketball title


In the end, Jamaal Barnes realized he just couldn’t lose his son.

The Garfield High coach only saw it this year. His son Jayden was also his point guard, and after two largely fruitless years, his son did become his point guard. There was no father in post-game car rides, only Coach, and his son stopped more often, the reason only realizing to Barnes when his wife told him to be both.

“It took a toll on our relationship,” Barnes said of him and Jayden, “because I thought I was always supposed to be a coach.”

Finally, Jayden told him how he felt, and Barnes realized, he said, that basketball was just a game. Not life or death. It’s not worth straining their relationship. And the two have been working on their relationship, drawing a clearer line that propelled father and son into Friday night’s Division III City championship game against Arleta.

“If we won it and were the first Garfield boys’ basketball team to win it, to take home a championship at the school, I think it would be more special because I can say that with my son could have done.” said Barnes.

And leading by just two points on Friday with seconds left and needing a stop, Jayden Barnes pocketed Arleta’s Abraham Soto and dove for the loose ball, slapping teammates’ hands in sheer ecstasy after they had made a mistake. When his jumper fell dry, it was the relentlessness of two-sport star Jayden in defense and late-game free throws that gave Garfield a 47-42 victory – and the first-ever City title in the programme’s history.

In front of a crowd singing the national anthem “East LA!” at Venice High, Barnes raised the championship trophy to the rafters after the game amid an explosion of confetti, his son smiling.

“This will forever be a memory close to my heart,” said Jamaal Barnes of winning the title with Jayden.

In front of a roaring home section, they endured a grueling first half – a 20-19 deficit, a true football scoreline – and a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter as Arleta had every ounce of momentum. The Mustangs’ Robert Gomez was dishing and grinding in the post, and Arleta’s offense had begun to set the Bulldogs on fire in the second half.

But Garfield, bigger than the father and son, is a group of Eastside grinders who came all the way back from a 9-17 record last season. And after a setback from center Adam Nouri, a huge three-pointer from senior Giovanni Rosa swung it to give the Bulldogs a one-point lead.

Rosa had worked at a juice store all season to help support a single-parent family, Barnes said. Last week, in City’s semi-final, the coach had to adapt the shoot-around to Rosa’s services.

“Just watching them put on their big boy pants and take care of the things they need to take care of was everything to me,” the coach said of the team’s journey.

And son Jayden finished it off, fouled three times in the last minute and exhausted the decisive free throws. A standout wide receiver on Garfield’s football team, he ran over in sheer elation and slapped football coach Lorenzo Hernandez on the hand after a belated whistle.

“He’s a high caliber inspector,” Hernandez said.

San Pedro wins girls Division II City title

With the pressure suddenly increased, on the wrong side of a 27-8 run, San Pedro junior Noelani Raigans took the inbound pass and delivered one of the most daring shots you’ll ever see.

Trailing by five with less than a minute to play in a raucous City Section Division II title game against Chatsworth, reeling after a corner three from Madison Guerrero, Raigans knew her Pirates needed a three to stay alive.

She had no idea she was going to try what came next. It all went so fast.

She pushed the ball upfield in the blink of an eye, put her feet a few paces within halfway, and launched a three. Cash. And suddenly a Chatsworth crowd that threatened reasonable decibel levels was silent.

“I knew I could hit that one,” Raigans said after the game.

Even as Chatsworth threw the sink to San Pedro in a tense overtime affair, the Pirates secured a 52-51 win and a City title Friday night behind timely shots from Raigans.

She finished with 17 points, her teammates lifted her by the legs for post-game photos as she cradled the championship trophy, the San Pedro crowd serenaded her with chants of “MVP!”

“We didn’t want to get cocky, but we knew it was going to be a good game,” said Raigans. “So after this, we’re definitely going to party.”

Girls soccer

On a soggy turf of a pouring rain day in Los Angeles, Newhall Hart won the Southern Section Division 2 title 1-0 over Harvard-Westlake.

South Gate, meanwhile, beat Canoga Park on penalties to win the third City Division II title.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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