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Farmar Delivers for Taft

March 07, 2004|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Jordan Farmar had wanted this moment ever since he checked into Woodland Hills Taft two years ago. With the City Section boys' basketball championship on the line Saturday night, the Toreadors' star point guard wasn't about to let this rare opportunity slip through his fingers.

Farmar coolly swished four consecutive free throws to keep top-seeded Los Angeles Fairfax at bay and give Taft its first major-division championship with a 64-60 victory before an estimated crowd of 6,000 at the Sports Arena.

"This is big," the UCLA-bound senior said. "I can hang up a banner and put a ring on my finger and enjoy this."

It is Taft's first basketball title since winning the 3A championship in 1980. It is also the first major-division titlist out of the San Fernando Valley in 40 years.

"I told our kids that it was a reality, and with Westchester being out [of the postseason], it was even more of a reality," Taft Coach Derrick Taylor said. "They're so much better than everybody else. But anytime you have a chance in a one-game setting, you have the opportunity to beat someone."

Farmar had a brilliant performance with a game-high 29 points, making 10 of 20 shots while making all six of his free throws. The last four were key as Fairfax needed to foul after JaShon Hampton and Jerron Shipp missed three-point tries that would have tied the score in the final 30 seconds.

"That's where I want to be at the end of the game," Farmar said. "As a leader and a big-time player, I want to be taking big shots. It's no big deal. Just knock them down."

Taft (27-2) made most of the decisive plays in the final four minutes after trailing 55-51. Sophomore Calvin Haynes, who sat the first 21 games because of academic ineligibility, made two big shots.

Haynes, who finished with 11 points, made a three-point basket to spark a 7-0 run. With 43 seconds left, the shooting guard penetrated inside the lane and made a short jump shot to give the Toreadors a 60-57 lead.

Josh Shipp scored 21 points to lead Fairfax (23-5), which has lost in three consecutive City finals. The Lions were outrebounded, 44-26, as Taft forwards Maurice Walters and Jabari Samuel helped the Toreadors collect 20 offensive rebounds. Matt Cook chipped in 14 points for the Toreadors, who held Jamal Boykin to seven points after he had scored 26 and 29 in the last two playoff games.

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