Azzam & West: Record Updates

Ed Azzam (front right) has won 12 L.A. City Section titles at Westchester of Los Angeles. Here is his 1991-92 title team that finished 28-3. (L-R): Tim Dancy, Dakarai Gillard, James Gray, Jason Sanders, Walter Walker, Lorenzo Ball, David Thomas, Marty Cotwright, LaValle Ball, Printle Russell, Eddie Smith, Rico Laurie, Maurice Robinson, James Towns.

Ed Azzam (front right) has won 757 games and 12 L.A. City titles at Westchester of Los Angeles. Here is his 1991-92 4A title team that went 28-3. (L-R): Tim Dancy, Dakarai Gillard, James Gray, Jason Sanders, Walter Walker, Lorenzo Ball, David Thomas, Marty Cotwright, LaValle Ball, Printle Russell, Eddie Smith, Rico Laurie, Maurice Robinson, James Towns.

Year-by-year results kept by Cal-Hi Sports and noted historian Bruce McIntosh of Rio Vista shows long-time L.A. Westchester coach Ed Azzam still 46 wins short of L.A. City Section career wins record-holder Willie West of L.A. Crenshaw. Below is a tale of the tape for both legendary coaches.

For updated state boys basketball coaching wins records, CLICK HERE.

Note: Many boys and girls basketball state record updates are part of our Gold Club membership. To check out what our Gold Club is all about and join, please CLICK HERE.

In record-keeping, there are always going to be discrepancies. They are especially prevelant in a state as big as California and in basketball because of the varying amount of games each team plays, especially within the consolation brackets of tournaments which can easily go unreported. In football, as keepers of the state record book, we know when sections went to a 10-game regular season and, of course, any number based on 10 is easy to calculate.

When high-powered boys basketball teams such as Westchester travel to out-of-state events, tournament promoters always want to know the coach’s record to help promote the event. Carefully studying his yearly won-loss marks after we researched his early seasons in the last 48 hours, it looks like Westchester coach Ed Azzam was given 50 additional wins at some point in the late 1990s or early 2000s when tournament promoters and the media began to inquire about his overall marks.

The Los Angeles Times archives lists Westchester as 10-10 for the 1984-1985 season, but historian Bruce McIntosh of Rio Vista has game-by-game scores in which the Comets finished 14-8 one season after advancing to the 1984 L.A. City Section 4A final. Take away those four wins and looking at the amount of times that Azzam won 25 games and it’s easy to see how additional wins could have been added to Azzam’s logs at some point.

At Saturday’s Cavalier Classic at Cerritos College, we confirmed Azzam’s now current 757-232 mark with longtime Westchester assistant coaches Brian Henderson, whose first season on staff was 1995-96 and has kept Westchester’s logs since, and DeWitt Cotton, whose been on Azzam’s staff even longer. Cotton actually played for Azzam from 1983-85 and he confirmed that the logs for those years are indeed accurate.

“We were 0-10 in league my sophomore year (1983),” Cotton said on Saturday.

Here's a small snapshot of all the banners that hang in the Westchester gym, including the one that refers to Cal-Hi Sports' No. 1 ranked team despite not participating in the playoffs.

Here’s a small snapshot of the banners hanging in the Westchester gym, including one that refers to a Cal-Hi Sports No. 1 ranking when the team did not participate in the playoffs.

In stark contrast to Willie West, who went an incredible 49-1 in his first three seasons at L.A. Crenshaw, Azzam’s early teams were not powerhouses. Azzam, in fact, did not win a league title in his first 10 seasons competing against a group of programs in a league and section that were much stronger overall then they are now.

One thing is certain, Azzam didn’t start consistently winning 20-plus games per year until future New Mexico State point guard Sam Crawford and three-time all-city forward Zan Mason entered the program. Azzam’s 1987 team was primarily sophomores and when Crawford and Mason were seniors in 1988-89, then Westchester opened up the season ranked No. 1 in the state. After winning its first L.A. City 4A title with four underclass starters during the 1990-91 season, the program has basically rolled since.

The wins have been piling up in recent seasons, but like us, Azzam’s long-time Western League rival Harvey Kitani of L.A. Fairfax was a bit surprised when he heard his former Gardena High classmate was going to pass West as the dean of L.A. City Section coaches.

“I had the exact same feeling when Eric Sondheimer asked me my opinion about Ed tying Willie,” Kitani said. “It kind of came quick, you don’t think about those things.”

We don’t enjoy playing spoiler or in anyway want to diminish Azzam’s accomplishments, we just strive to be accurate as possible when we publish information. In Azzam’s defense, he doesn’t care much about individual coaching accomplishments and prefers to focus on helping his current team win games and current players prepare for life after basketball.

“What I most remember is that he cared about us as young people and continues to do so,” said Brandon Granville, the stating point guard on his first state title team in 1998. “He was consistent and unwavering in teaching us the right way to do things.”

Below is the year-by-year logs of Azzam and the retired West. These marks are on-the-court only and don’t include defaults or forfeits.

We went over these marks with Coach West after he retired and was about to be inducted into the Cal-State Los Angeles Hall of Fame. If any former Westchester players have corrections to any of these years, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ed Azzam (Westchester) Year-by-Year:

Dwayne Polee Jr.'s father was the City and State Player of the Year at Manual Arts in Ed Azzam's second year as coach in 1980-1981.

Dwayne Polee Jr.’s father was the City and State Player of the Year at Manual Arts in Ed Azzam’s second year as coach in 1980-1981.

1979-1980: 8-12
1980-1981: 4-14
1981-1982: 10-11
1982-1983: 6-14
1983-1984: 19-6
1984-1985: 14-8
1985-1986: 15-8
1986-1987: 13-9
1987-1988: 20-6
1988-1989: 16-6
1989-1990: 16-11
1990-1991: 22-8
1991-1992: 28-3
1992-1993: 22-7
1993-1994: 23-5
1994-1995: 23-7
1995-1996: 23-7*
1996-1997: 25-7
1997-1998: 30-3
1998-1999: 19-10
1999-2000: 24-7
2000-2001: 28-2
2001-2002: 32-2
2002-2003: 33-3
2003-2004: 23-2**
2004-2005: 25-3
2005-2006: 25-7
2006-2007: 26-7
2007-2008: 28-5
2008-2009: 35-2
2009-2010: 32-3
2010-2011: 27-8
2011-2012: 22-8
2012-2013: 29-7
2013-2014: 12-4***

•Overall Career Record: 757-232 (.765 winning % on the court)

Key Assistants: Earl Brown, DeWitt Cotton, Brian Henderson, Marlon Morton, Tim Varnell, Frank Woods.

*Record does not reflect two forfeit losses.
**Team banned from post-season; defeated eventual CIF Div. I state champ
Fairfax twice in Western League play.
***Does not include result from Saturday’s Cavalier Classic.

•125-94 in the 1980s (.570 winning % on the court)
•231-68 in the 1990s (.773 winning % on the court)
•279-40 in the 2000s (.875 winning % on the court)
•122-30 in the 2010s (.803 winning % on the court)
12 L.A. City Section Titles: 1991, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003,
2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013.
6 CIF Div. I State Titles: 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010.
Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year: 2004
Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year: 2002
•Div. I State Coach of the Year: 2002

Willie West (Crenshaw) Year-by-Year:

1970-1971: 17-1, 9-1
1971-1972: 14-0, 10-0*
1972-1973: 18-0, 10-0
1973-1974: 24-4, 10-0
1974-1975: 19-4, 9-1
1975-1976: 24-2, 10-0
1976-1977: 12-5, 8-2
1977-1978: 23-3, 10-0
1978-1979: 20-3, 9-1
1979-1980: 19-2, 10-0
1980-1981: 21-3, 10-0
1981-1982: 22-3, 9-1
1982-1983: 27-2, 10-0
1983-1984: 23-3, 10-0
1984-1985: 24-0, 10-0**
1985-1986: 25-2, 10-0
1986-1987: 20-4, 9-1
1987-1988: 28-1, 10-0
1988-1989: 25-2, 10-0
1989-1990: 22-5, 9-1
1990-1991: 21-5, 9-1
1991-1992: 19-5, 7-3
1992-1993: 28-2, 10-0
1993-1994: 29-2, 10-0
1994-1995: 25-6, 8-2
1995-1996: 29-5, 9-1
1996-1997: 27-3, 10-0
1997-1998: 19-4, 9-1
1998-1999: 26-5, 10-0***
1999-2000: 21-4, 10-0
2000-2001: 21-6, 8-2
2001-2002: 20-8, 8-2
2002-2003: 20-7, 9-1
2003-2004: 18-7, 7-3
2004-2005: 16-7, 7-3
2005-2006: 19-7, 7-3 ****
2006-2007: 18-8, 9-3

•Overall Career Record: 803-140 (.852 winning % on the court)
•League Career Record: 339-33 (.911 winning % on the court)

Key Assistants: Maurice Duckett, Joe Weakley.

*Forfeited to 2-12.
**Not including 6-0 post-season European tour.
***Did not coach in playoff quarterfinal win over Sylmar; attending the funeral of his father in Texas.
****Two losses to Fremont later ruled forfeit wins.

•171-22 in the 1970s (.886 winning % on the court; 85-5 in league play)
•234-22 in the 1980s (.914 winning % on the court; 98-2 in league play)
•245-42 in the 1990s (.854 winning % on the court; 91-9 in league play)
•153-54 in the 2000s (.739 winning % on the court) 65-17 in league play)
•16 L.A. City Section Titles: 1971, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984,
1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.
8 CIF Div. I State Titles: 1983, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997.
•19 Consecutive League Titles, 1973-1991, 22 consecutive on-the-court.
•28 league titles overall in 37 seasons.
•Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year: 1989
•Div. I State Coach of the Year: 1996
•West only lost 33 league games in 37 seasons. He only lost seven league games in the 1970s and 1980s combined and in his first 25 seasons, he only lost five home games: once to Carson (1975) Westchester (1977), Gardena (1982), Washington (1992) and Dorsey (1995) and was swept only by Westchester and Dorsey in that time period.

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores


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6 Comments

  1. Courtland Fiero
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading the article on Coach Ed Azzam. It brought back some fond memories. I played for coach in the 1982-83 season with DeWitt. I also played on the Men’s JV Baseball team that was coached by Azzam, my freshman year. That’s right, BASEBALL team. We had some memorable moments, that’s for sure!

    I remember when Coach made a visit to our starting pitcher(Pat “Joe” Sheehy- a Caucasian kid with freckles and bright red hair-a friend of mine) after hitting two batters(African-American) in a row at Crenshaw. He tried to calm him down, but after returning to the dugout, on the next pitch….he hit his 3rd batter in a row!!!
    Note: Not only do the players empty the dugout, but the fans try to come onto the field.
    Another road trip had us playing Pacific Palisades. During the game one of our players(Backstrom) got picked off 1st base. When we got back late that night to Westchester, instead of going home, Coach made us all go into the dugout and sent Backstrom to first. He told Backstrom(African-American) to take a lead. Then he told us “What do we do as a team when the pitcher throws to first?” Yell Back. Right? So he gave the signal and Backstrom was told to dive back when he heard us yell. Well, Logan (our good power hitter and quite a bit lighter skin African-American and team jokester) told us to yell “Black” instead. Coach didn’t find that to funny. We were out there for awhile yelling back and then running a few laps around the field.

    But my favorite memory was playing Varsity Basketball my senior year. I did not play summer ball for Coach leading up to my senior year and was told I would have a tough time making the team). Well I busted my butt and hustled every day at practice and made the team. Unfortunately I only started a few games that year and mostly came off the bench and one game against Palisades I didn’t even play. That was one of the games my mom and sisters came to see. I heard from my twin sister that while I was dressing in the locker room, our mom went down and “talked” to Coach Azzam.
    After the season was over, we had our team banquet. The last award was the Coach’s award. He talked about what the award meant and some of the accomplishments and attributes of the winner. Then he said, “And the award goes to Courtland Fiero (Me!). Wow. I was shocked. I thought Kevin Floyd (Received a Scholarship to Georgetown) was going to win it. My mom was so happy and proud of me. I remember she went to Coach Azzam and said she was so sorry about the comments she made to him the night I didn’t play. He said, “I have no problem with talking to parents about their kids and it’s your prerogative to express your feelings.” It was one of my best moments with my mom (A year later she died.)

    I’m 48 years old now, and reflect back at what type of impact Coach Ed Azzam had on my life. He taught me sportsmanship (always shake the opponents hand win or lose, AND THANK THE OFFICIALS for coming, because without them, we have no game), teamwork(running a lap under a min for everyone or we run again, and again until we all do it) practice(only way to get better, although Allen Iverson wouldn’t agree coach), CONDITIONING (Running lines or stairs on the football field, leaping the benches, etc.-will make us stronger in the 4th quarter than our opponents) and HIS #1 RULE: GET GOOD GRADES OR YOU DON’T PLAY.

    Last night I watched the Kentucky vs Arkansas game. On basically the last play of the game, Michael Qualls throws down a dunk off an offensive rebound to win the game. Most people think of what a great play that was but I was thinking, “WHERE IS THE BOX OUT?” right coach?

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Thanks very much, Courtland, for adding your tribute to Coach Azzam. He will pass Willie West soon and he is one of our state’s greatest basketball coaches ever.

  2. Doc
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Im in the picture above played for Coach Azzam 90-91 & 91-92 back to back city championships. Dayum good coach who ironically focused alot on defense at the time. Watching Sam Crawford my freshman year with Zan Mason was fun times. Im glad coach has had success and continues to.

    #CometLife

  3. Jane's scott
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I want 2 say congrats 2 all comets ballers in also ed azzam… by the way I was ed azzam first point t guard 65 in I think if I could’ve listen a little more in had a little more maturity I would’ve have made it… i played in a lot of pro summer leagues in was always u Der Michael cooper learning every aspect of the game… i want 2 say no matter how good you are allow someone else to teach you a little more… if you remember my game I don’t think no one in high school I played against beside Dwayne Poole in a a couple other guys got the best of me… thanks again azzam

    • Chad Bell
      Posted July 10, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Please email me. I am a member of the back to back 2000 and 2001 City Championship team at Westchester. I would love to learn more about you being Coaches first point guard. I am in the middle of putting together a film for him. cbell33@gmail.com

      • Ronnie Flores
        Posted July 16, 2019 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Chad how is the film coming along? I once got some good footage from coach Varnell. Hope everything is well.

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