CIF Boys Basketball State Division I playoffs
No. 3 Woodland Hills Taft (27-2) vs. Clovis West (25-5)
Taft won the CIF City Section Division I championship, 66-62, over Westchester. Clovis West lost the Central Section Division I championship, 54-51, to Bullard.
Taft coach Derrick Taylor might have a challenge getting his players to focus on the first round of the CIF State playoffs after an emotional win over Westchester. It was the first time in three tries Taylor and Taft beat Westchester to win the City championship.
But Taylor said his players were excited to be at practice on Monday. They are focused on the next task at hand. They have their sights set on a state championship.
“They’re all good. We’re in good shape,” Taylor said, adding that beating Westchester meant more to the players than him. “It was important to them. They made it about me.”
Here are the five keys for Taft against Clovis West:
1. Stay focused. Taft’s win over Westchester was monumental, but it many aspects expected. There is a bigger goal for the Taft basketball team: winning a state championship.
2. Respect Clovis West. Clovis West entered the Central Section playoffs as the top seed. The Golden Eagles were in search of their 12th CIF Central Section championship. They came up short, but they are still a good team, one that will be looking for a little redemption.
3. Clovis West’s Denzel Johnson: He scored 16 points and narrowly missed sending the Central Section championship game into overtime. His 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the front of the rim and bounced out.
4. Clovis West’s Charlie Thompson: He played well in the championship game against Bullard, scoring 14 points. Taylor said he knows little about the Clovis West players, but Johnson and Thompson are already on his radar.
5. Taft’s big three, Kevin Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie and CJ Blackwell, have been taking turns starring on the court all season. Taylor said one of the unsung players has been Brandon Perry. The 6-foot-6 junior forward is averaging 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Taylor has seen Perry progressively improve during the season and expects some big games out of him in the state playoffs.