Give Woodland Hills Taft Coach Derrick Taylor a top point guard and he'll usually put together a team to contend for a City Section basketball championship.
In 2004, the Toreadors won behind Jordan Farmar. In 2008, they won with Larry Drew Jr. leading the way. And in 2011, they could be celebrating another City title with Colorado-bound Spencer Dinwiddie at the controls.
The 6-foot-4 Dinwiddie has a calming effect on his teammates. His team struggled Friday night against Reseda Cleveland when he went to the bench in the first quarter with two fouls.
He came back in the second quarter to ignite an 8-0 run by making a three-pointer, and Taft (15-2, 3-0) went on to a 69-32 victory over the Cavaliers in a West Valley League game.
The way Taft played in the third quarter might send chills through the rest of the City Section. The Toreadors scored 20 consecutive points to open the quarter and held Cleveland (9-9, 2-2) scoreless for nearly six minutes. Every Taft starter had at least two baskets in the quarter, and it was an indication of Taft's superiority over most of its City opponents. Only defending champion Westchester is considered a possible challenger to the Toreadors, but Taylor said, "We're improving a lot."
Dinwiddie had seven assists and contributed nine points. Stephen Maxwell led Taft with 18 points. And what's scary about the Toreadors is that Taylor is already developing another promising point guard in freshman Ajon Efferson, who had 10 points off the bench Friday.
Taft is at its best when more than one player is contributing on offense, and that was the case in the second half. Whether it was 6-10 Kevin Johnson, 6-5 C.J. Blackwell or guard Khiry Williams, everyone was finding a way to contribute.
"We're starting to turn the corner," Taylor said.
Taft doesn't figure to lose a West Valley League game, and it has a showdown with Concord De La Salle in the Nike Extravaganza on Feb. 5 at Santa Ana Mater Dei.