WOODLAND HILLS -- With nine seconds left in Thursday's second-round regional between Taft and Leuzinger, the Toreadors had the ball under the Leuzinger basket with score tied.
And that's when Bryce Jones stepped up. The Taft senior isolated himself 25 feet away from the basket and drained an NBA-range 3-pointer in front of two Olympians defenders just as time expired to give the Toreadors a 66-63 victory over visiting Leuzinger in the second round of the Southern California Division I State Regionals.
Cue the celebration from the Taft sideline. Cue the mobbing of the court by the Taft student section. And cue Mater Dei, which Taft will face in the next round Saturday. The Taft victory also put an end to Leuzinger's 21-game winning streak.
"That's what I practice all day for," said Jones, who's headed to USC next season. "I love opportunities like those, and I came through with it."
The play initially called for DeAndre Daniels to get the ball, Taft coach Derrick Taylor said. But when Taylor noticed that Leuzinger's Aqeel Quinn was shading away from Jones toward Daniels, he redirected his team to create an isolation play for Jones.
But Leuzinger's Amir Garrett looked to be glued on Jones as the clock ticked down, and the Olympians sent a second defender with a few seconds left. It didn't make a difference.
"He just made a great shot," Leuzinger coach Reggie Morris said. "We played that defense as good as you can play it. We switched it, we didn't foul, we had him going away from the basket with four hands in his face -- you can't ask for anything better than that."
"He's a great player, and he just made a great shot."
On the night, Jones made eight of 12 shots and scored 21 points. He also sat out a good portion of the second half after committing his fourth foul in the third quarter. The 6-foot-8 Daniels also had a lot of success against the Olympians, with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Taft's Landon Drew, the younger brother of North Carolina's Larry Drew, Jr., picked up a game-high nine assists as he fed the ball inside to Daniels.
Leuzinger had four players in double figures, led by Delon Wright's 16 points. Garrett had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Teshon Burton added 12. Altogether, the Olympians managed to pressure the Toreadors into 16 turnovers, but they couldn't keep the pace up as much as they wanted.
The Olympians also couldn't keep up with the Toreadors' shooting. Taft outshot Leuzinger 48 percent to 36 percent. But the Olympians' up-and-down style kept them close all game long.
"We were trying to make it a frantic game the whole game," Morris said. "But the officials wouldn't let us. We knew that they don't really excel playing frantic, and that's the way we play."
Said Taylor: "Their pressure bothered us. They run the floor better than anybody in California."