Narbonne draws No. 1 seed for City Open Division boys' basketball

There’s a changing of the guard taking place in City Section boys’ basketball, with the No. 1 seed for the eight-team Open Division playoffs awarded on Saturday to Harbor City Narbonne (17-8), which has a first-year coach.

Narbonne coach Kumase Demesma was an assistant to Anthony Hilliard before taking over this season. The arrival of 6-foot-8 Marcus Adams Jr. for his senior year has made the Gauchos the favorite to win the Open Division title. Lake Balboa Birmingham is seeded No. 2

First-round games are set for Friday. The semifinals and finals will be at Pasadena City College on Feb. 18 and 25. The openers will be: No. 8 Westchester at No. 1 Narbonne; No. 5 L.A. King/Drew at No. 4 Woodland Hills Taft; No. 7 San Pedro at No. 2 Birmingham; No. 6 Crenshaw at No. 3 Fairfax.

Demesma is facing a host of veteran coaches. Taft’s Derrick Taylor just won his 500th game and is a four-time City champion. Birmingham’s Nick Halic has won two City titles. King/Drew’s Lloyd Webster has been coming close, having lost to Fairfax in last year’s final. Ed Waters of Crenshaw has two Division I titles. Fairfax, the defending champion, also has a first-year coach in Jamal Hartwell.

The Open Division was weakened by the decision of Washington Prep to opt out of participating in any playoffs. The school did not give a reason to the City Section and coach Jovante King said Saturday he was not informed of the decision.

There are also issues involving Westchester, which is seeded No. 2 in Open Division girls and No. 8 in boys. Both coaches are under suspension. Boys’ coach Dewitt Cotton was suspended for pulling his team off the court with 1.3 seconds left in a game against Crenshaw. He will return after the first round of the playoffs. Dominic Grimes’ suspension from the girls’ team is unrelated to Cotton’s and when he will return is uncertain. The reason for his suspension also has not been revealed. Junior varsity coaches have taken over both teams.

Granada Hills received the No. 1 seed for Open Division girls, who begin games Thursday, and will face No. 8 San Fernando. The other opening matchups: No. 5 Birmingham at No. 4 King/Drew; No. 7 Taft at No. 2 Westchester; No. 6 Palisades at No. 3 Crenshaw.

Venice was seeded No. 1 for Division I boys and Hamilton for Division I girls.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.