LA North: Taft 100, Chatsworth 74

CHATSWORTH -- If the Woodland Hills Taft High boys’ basketball team was going to receive a challenge from anybody in the West Valley League, Chatsworth was thought to be one of the few legitimate threats.

Turns out, the only program that seems capable of beating the Toreadors is themselves. And that much was blatantly obvious on Thursday night as Taft thoroughly dominated the host Chancellors in a 100-74 victory.

“This game might have been big for them, but as far as we were concerned, the outcome was never in doubt,’’ Toreadors coach Derrick Taylor said. “Sure, they might have a lot of pride, and sure, they might have had a puncher’s chance. Bottom line is, they didn’t hit us very hard out there tonight.’’

The game was somewhat close in the opening minutes as Derrick Hector ended up hitting a pair of timely three-pointers to give the Chancellors (16-5, 0-2) a four-point advantage with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.

Taft (13-2, 2-0) answered, of course.

First, Spencer Dinwiddie converted a layup in traffic for the Toreadors. Then, Brandon Perry and Stephen Maxwell got free underneath the basket for a couple of uncontested buckets. Next thing you know, Taft had put together a 10-0 run to take a six-point lead at the end of the first quarter of play.

It was more of the same in the second quarter.

More of the Toreadors scoring seemingly at will.

Dinwiddie knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key to get things going. And shortly thereafter, the senior point guard, a Colorado commit, handed out assists to C.J. Blackwell and Kevin Johnson. Another Dinwiddie three-pointer extended the lead to 42-29 with 2:09 left in the first half.

If not for Hector, the final score would have been even more lopsided. Just before the halftime buzzer, the senior guard buried a three-pointer, was fouled in the act, and he made the subsequent free throw to convert the four-point play. Nevertheless, Chatsworth trailed 53-35 at intermission.

“If anyone doubted us, thought that we weren’t going to play well against Chatsworth tonight, they were sadly mistaken,’’ Dinwiddie said. “We came out ready and focused. We took it to them from start to finish.’’

Taft did not let up in the second half. 

Blackwell hit a jumper and added a reverse layup to give the Toreadors a 63-39 lead with 4:05 left in the third quarter. Following a Khiry Williams three-pointer, Taft headed into the fourth quarter with a 24-point lead.

“I think we came out here and made a statement without trying to tonight, we played well from the start to the end,’’ Blackwell said.

Johnson used his 6-foot-9 and 250-plus pound frame to gain better position down in the low block to start the final eight minutes of play. He scored six straight points to give Taft an 89-58 lead with 3:55 left in the game.

The starters made their way to the bench seconds later and the Taft reserves made the most of the extra playing time. Dominick Lewis got some good looks at the rim, and accordingly, hit back-to-back three-pointers. Finally, a layup by Ajon Jefferson enabled the Toreadors to reach the century mark.

“If I leave my guys in the game for all four quarters, I think we would have scored 120 points against them, maybe more,’’ Taylor said. “But honestly, we’re not into running up the score, that‘s not our style.’’

Johnson finished with 16 points. Blackwell added 15 of his own. And when all was said and done, Dinwiddie had 13 points.

Hector ended up with 33 points, including seven three-pointers. His teammate, Terrell Funches, contributed 15 points in the loss.