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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS

Woodland Hills Taft defeats Westchester, 66-62, in City Section Division I final

Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has 14 points and 12 assists, and C.J. Blackwell and Stephen Maxwell combine for 38 points and 22 rebounds to help Toreadors win their third Division I title.

March 05, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

Clutching the City Section championship plaque, senior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie of Woodland Hills Taft stood on the court at USC's Galen Center on Saturday afternoon and reflected on the special place he had earned in the hearts of Taft alumni, alongside Jordan Farmar and Larry Drew Jr.

"I'm honored to follow in their footsteps," he said. "Jordan went to the league [the NBA] and Larry went to UNC [North Carolina]. I want to take it a step further. I want to be the first one to win a state title."

Dinwiddie was already thinking ahead after scoring 14 points, contributing 12 assists and making four clutch free throws in the final eight seconds of a 66-62 win over Westchester in the City Division I championship game.

Top-seeded Taft (27-2) won its third Division I title, the others delivered by Farmar in 2004 and Drew in 2008.

"When the point guard position became solely his, he owned it," Coach Derrick Taylor said. "He knew he had to run this team and really wants to be really good and wants to be held in that Drew-Farmar mystique around Taft."

The main beneficiaries of having Dinwiddie on the court were C.J. Blackwell and Stephen Maxwell. Blackwell, the 6-foot-5 transfer from Atlanta, scored 20 points, making four of five shots from three-point range. He also had 14 rebounds. Maxwell had 18 points and eight rebounds.

Taft opened a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, but defending champion Westchester (26-7) gave the Toreadors a scare. Behind Trevone Williams, who had 20 points, the Comets closed to within 62-59 with nine seconds left after a three-pointer by Keywhon Powns. But Dinwiddie's free throws locked up the victory.

Westchester Coach Ed Azzam, seeking his 12th City title, said he couldn't have been more pleased about how hard his team played and its development over the course of the season.

"It was a tremendous effort," Azzam said. "They all stepped up."

Dinwiddie, who has signed with Colorado, was the decision maker. He consistently made the right calls on when to drive, when to shoot and when to pass. Twice he set up dunks by Blackwell and Maxwell in the fourth quarter.

"All year, C.J. has been our best scorer," Dinwiddie said. "Today he was getting his shots and making them. It was my job as a point guard to get him the ball."

Taft is expected to be seeded No. 2 or 3 in the state Division I playoffs that begin Tuesday.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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