Bishop Gorman's 6-foot-6 forward Shabazz Muhammad scored 31 points,… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Saturday was a mere 16-hour workday for UCLA Coach Ben Howland, starting with his team's 10 a.m. game against St. John's at Pauley Pavilion, followed by a scouting trip to Orange County in the evening to watch some of the nation's top high school prospects at the Nike Extravaganza.
Shabazz Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman who has UCLA, Kentucky and Duke in pursuit, played against unbeaten Long Beach Poly in the featured game at Santa Ana Mater Dei.
The annual event has brought out the likes of Kevin Love and Nolan Smith in the past, and the left-handed Muhammad certainly has similar star quality. He delivered a couple of thundering dunks and finished with 31 points to help the Gaels end Poly's winning streak at 22 games with a 58-53 victory.
"He's fabulous," Poly guard Alexis Moore said. "He got any shot at will."
Poly (22-1) held a 35-30 lead through three quarters but was outscored, 15-2, to start the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits struggled against the Gaels' zone defense.
The Los Angeles City Section's top two teams, Woodland Hills Taft and Westchester, each went into overtime on Saturday, and Taft (21-2) saved the day by pulling out a 49-42 victory over Concord De La Salle. Spencer Dinwiddie scored 12 consecutive points at the end of regulation and the start of overtime and finished with 16 points, the same as teammate C.J. Blackwell.
Westchester (20-6) wasn't so fortunate. The Comets held a 12-point halftime lead but lost in overtime to Orange Lutheran, 66-63. James Douglas scored 27 points and Gabe York 25 for the Lancers (19-6). York's steal and basket with 20 seconds left in overtime ended a 63-63 tie.
Another City Section power, Fairfax, was beaten by Rialto Eisenhower, 53-39, and is struggling while waiting to see whether junior guard Brendyn Taylor regains his eligibility.
After transferring from Los Angeles View Park Prep, Taylor applied for a hardship waiver of transfer rules from City Section Commissioner Barbara Fiege, who rejected the request. Then a CIF appeals panel overturned Fiege, and Taylor played in seven games before the CIF declared him ineligible Jan. 11.
Requests to the CIF to release information about the case have been denied. Fiege also isn't talking, and neither is Taylor's father, Brian, who won't discuss specifics other than stating he continues to wait for a response from the CIF.
Meanwhile, Taylor sits on the bench during games and isn't allowed to practice past 3 p.m. His absence has greatly affected the Lions. With him, Fairfax defeated Eisenhower, 56-33, on Dec. 21.
With the City Section seeding meeting scheduled for Saturday, the question of whether Taylor will be allowed to play could have an impact on the tournament, though not in the opinion of Taft's Dinwiddie.
"We are the best team in the City," he said.