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Taft's upset of Fairfax goes according to plan

March 01, 2009|Eric Sondheimer

There was no denying the effectiveness of the game plan devised by Woodland Hills Taft Coach Derrick Taylor on Saturday in a City Section Division I semifinal against No. 2-seeded Los Angeles Fairfax at USC's Galen Center.

He had his players sag and leave open for shots every Lions player other than USC-bound Renardo Sidney and Solomon Hill, and the result was a stunning 67-45 victory for the defending champion Toreadors (25-3).

"Stick to the plan," he shouted to his players after Hill made a three-point basket. "Don't panic."

Sidney, the 6-foot-11 McDonald's All-American center, was limited to 13 points and scored only one basket after the first quarter. Hill scored six points. Donte McFrazier, the Fairfax guard whom Taft repeatedly left unguarded, made only three of 15 shots. Even after McFrazier connected on three three-pointers in the third quarter, Taylor told his players, "As long as he's shooting, no one else is."

"When you get to this point in the playoffs, every game plan is specialized," Taylor said. "You start specializing how to stop certain people, and our guys carried it out, and I was real proud of them."

Taft was supposed to be in a rebuilding year after losing All-American point guard Larry Drew Jr. to graduation, but the Toreadors showed Saturday they have two All-City guards in Michael Williams and Justin Hawkins. Williams scored 23 points and Hawkins had 20, earning Taft a spot in Friday's championship game against Westchester at the Galen Center.

Westchester 71, Reseda Cleveland 56 -- USC-bound Dwayne Polee Jr., a 6-6 junior, had 16 points and 10 rebounds to help the top-seeded Comets (29-2) win their semifinal.

Five Westchester players reached double figures, including junior guard Jordin Mayes, who had 16 points. But it was Polee's aggressiveness and leaping ability that gave Cleveland (20-8) trouble. Westchester went on an 11-0 run at the outset of the third quarter to widen a four-point halftime lead.

Westchester will be seeking its 10th City title for Coach Ed Azzam and its seventh this decade.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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