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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Cleveland Wins as Taft Fouls Up

West Valley: Toreadors go down to 82-69 defeat after three starters spend much of the game on the bench.

January 31, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RESEDA — Taft High could withstand the loss of one standout player to foul trouble, two was barely manageable, but three turned out to be disaster.

Seniors Amir Bar-Netzer, Harold Shevlin and Brandyn Fisher, who combined average almost 55 points a game for the Toreadors, missed large chunks of time against Cleveland in a West Valley League boys' basketball game Friday night.

The Cavaliers took full advantage--especially in the second half--in an 82-69 victory at Cleveland High.

Cleveland (14-7, 4-2) moved back into a first place tie with the Toreadors (12-5, 4-2) in the West Valley League.

Fifty-five fouls were called in the game, 30 on Taft. Bar-Netzer picked up two in the first two minutes of the game and sat for the rest of the first quarter.

Bar-Netzer was called for two more midway through the third quarter and was benched for the rest of the quarter.

Shevlin had only two in the first half, but was called for three in a 90-second stretch midway though the third quarter, fouling out with eight points.

Fisher missed half of the second quarter with three fouls before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter with 10 points.

"I can't see how a team's best three players can all foul out," said Bar-Netzer, who finished with four fouls and 24 points but was taken out with three minutes left. "It's very frustrating."

Even without Bar-Netzer, Taft outplayed Cleveland for the first 1 1/2 quarters, leading by six after the first period and building a 32-21 lead midway through the second once the 6-foot-6 senior forward returned.

The Toreadors dictated the pace and were patient in their shot selection. Taft made 14 of 22 shots (63.6%) in the first half.

"I think we were a little lackadaisical because we got out of school at 12:30 today [because of finals]," Cleveland Coach Andre Chevalier said. "But we finally got going."

Kenny Mason triggered an 11-2 run with a three-pointer, and the Cavaliers began forcing turnovers with their full-court press, forcing a 38-38 tie at halftime.

Bar-Netzer scored five quick points sandwiched around a basket by Brian Smith of Cleveland after halftime, before the Cavaliers went on a 17-1 run over the next five minutes.

Cleveland guard Kent Dennis took advantage of Shevlin's absence. The junior scored seven points in the run and threw a half-court alley-oop pass to Simmagin Smith for a dunk.

"We wanted to get the crowd involved," said Dennis, who finished with 31 points.

Without Shevlin and Bar-Netzer, Taft began to panic, firing up desperation three-pointers.

"We just lost our composure," Taft Coach Mark Drucker said.

Taft pulled to within 60-51 late in the third quarter, but Cleveland scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter--including two three-pointers by Dennis.

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