PALM SPRINGS, Calif. —
The reaction of Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.)
boys basketball coach Ed Azzam winning 800 games was typical. He had no idea. As a matter of fact, there was a number discrepancy that longtime assistant Brian Henderson cleared up afterward.
Azzam, who has coached at Westchester since 1979 and won six state titles, won No. 800 with a sluggish 74-67 win over Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.)
in the opening game of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic's
24-team Invitational at brand new Rancho Mirage.
"Seven ninety, 780, 980, I don't know how many I have, go ask (Henderson)," Azzam said.
Azzam likely won't keep game film of this milestone win.
"This looked like we've been off for three days and drove two hours to get here," he said. "Tray (Alemany coach Meeks) does a good job, and they played well, but we were sluggish. Didn't have any legs until the second half."
Westchester (8-3) got 16 points each from Layon Gooden
and Myles Stewart
. Loyola Marymount-bound Elijah Stewart
added 13 points and seven rebounds. Gary Chivichyan
added 17 points, Kevin Summers
14 and Brandon Boyd
13 for Alemany (8-3).
Asked how long he wants to keep coaching and what has been the key to his longevity, Azzam said: "As long as they'll allow me to keep teaching, I'll keep coaching. … At this point, I don't care so much about the wins or titles. I just want to teach kids to get better."See blog on Westchester on one day 'till MaxPreps Holiday Classic
Westchester, who is missing 6-foot-7 forward Joshua Rideau
(out indefinitely for unspecified reasons according to Azzam), plays later in the day against Issaquah (Issaquah, Wash.)
). Azzam isn't fond of the two-game setup for all of the Invitational Division teams either Thursday or Friday.
"I didn't look at the schedule close enough," Azzam said. "I wouldn't have agreed to it."
Westchester, the defending Invitational Division champion, got limited play from MaxPreps 2012 All-Tournament selection Nick Hamilton
, hurting from a knee injury. Azzam doesn't think Hamilton will play in the late game.
"(Azzam) is a great coach," Hamilton said. "He's motto for us is always, 'Just compete," and that's what we do. He doesn't say it, but he really hates to lose. And that's why we compete so hard because we don't want to disappoint him."