Taft makes it two City titles in a row

CARSON -- The Woodland Hills Taft boys' basketball team turned the CIF City Section Division I boys basketball championship game into a dunk contest.

Anthony January and Brandon Perry opened the second half with a pair of dunks as Taft rolled to a 58-42 win over Dorsey to capture its second City Section championship in a row.

“The game plan every game is to attack the basket,” said Taft coach Jason Hart. “I think our size and our athleticism is our strength. If we shoot more jumpers than getting the ball in the paint, then I’m not doing my job as coach.”

For Hart, it was his first CIF championship. The first-year coach guided Taft to a 29-3 record and a berth in next week's CIF state playoffs.

January scored a game-high 24 points and had seven dunks in the game. To prove his range can expand from under the basket, he hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to give Taft a 15-point lead.

He added 19 rebounds and was a key part of the defense that held Dorsey to shooting 28.6 percent from the field.

While the end result was a blowout, the game was close for the first three quarters.

Taft led 21-17 at halftime in a low-scoring first half. Taft built a nine-point lead in the second quarter, but Dorsey rallied with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to two points with 2:10 left before halftime.

January and Jayvon Gentle scored for Taft in the closing minutes of the second quarter to give the Toreadors a six-point lead.

Rashard Clark tipped in a missed 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer and cut the Taft lead to four points.

Taft, the No. 5 team in the ESPN Los Angeles top 20 rankings, was able to expand its lead in the third quarter to seven points. January and Perry dunked Taft to a 15-point lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. But Perry picked up his fifth foul with 5:30 to play in the game. He finished with only four points and two rebounds.

Kris Yanku and Gentle picked up the slack as Perry struggled to score. Yanku scored 14 points and Gentle scored 10 points.

Kalin Barber scored 11 points to lead Fairfax. Donald Muepo Jr. had nine points.

“It feels good,” Hart said. “I don’t think nothing can top this. So now we’re on to the state.”