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Boys' basketball: A big coaching moment for Grant's Howie Levine

February 29, 2012 | 11:35 am

There have been only two basketball coaches since Van Nuys Grant opened in 1958.

Howie Levine took over in 1986 from Bill McKee, and in his 26th season, he's trying to win the school's first championship. Grant will play Bell on Saturday in the City Section Division III championship game at 3 p.m. at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Levine has been one of the longest-lasting coaches in the City Section. He also sings Frank Sinatra songs.

"I can’t do too many things," he said. "I can sing a little bit, but this is what I do. I love basketball and enjoy being with the kids. I’ve been doing this since I was 5 years old."

He coached Gilbert Arenas in high school and he has sung the national anthem four times at Dodger Stadium, where he is an usher for the Dodgers.

"I'm too old for 'American Idol,' " he said.

He’s a 1972 Grant graduate who would cherish helping deliver the school’s first basketball title. But does he have a singing engagement Saturday?

"Unfortunately, I don't," he said.

No weddings, no Bar Mitzvahs. But a game that he can't wait to coach.

-- Eric Sondheimer