Anthony January finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds and had six dunks in the second half alone as Woodland Hills Taft won its second consecutive City Section Division I boys' championship and third in five years Saturday night with a 58-42 victory over L.A. Dorsey at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
"Yeah, I had big shoes to fill — my own," said Taft's first-year coach, Jason Hart, who played 10 years in the NBA and replaced the highly successful Derrick Taylor, who is now at Bellflower St. John Bosco. "I want to win, but I want to do it my way. I'm a defense kind of guy, and the kids bought in."
January electrified the crowd with a two-handed dunk on an alley-oop in the third quarter and put the exclamation mark on the Toreadors' second-half performance with a one-handed dunk that gave them a 54-37 lead with less than 2:22 left.
Kris Yanku added 14 points and seven assists, and Jayvon Gentle had 10 points and eight rebounds for top-seeded Taft (29-3), which shot 51.1% from the field and outscored the Dons 37-25 in the second half.
Kalin Barber scored 11 points, and Donald Muepo Jr. added nine points and five rebounds for the seventh-seeded Dons, who made just 14 of 49 shots (28.6%), including two of 13 from three-point range.
Dorsey (27-8) trailed 9-4 after the first quarter and 21-17 at halftime.
Girls: Harbor City Narbonne 50, Fairfax 44
After falling short in the finals the previous two seasons, Harbor City Narbonne was not about to let it happen again.
Kimberly Pickett scored 15 of her 23 points in the second half as the Gauchos overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to win their ninth Los Angeles City Section title with a 50-44 victory over Fairfax in the Division I girls' final Saturday night at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
With her team clinging to a two-point lead, Pickett hit a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put Narbonne in front, 44-39, with 3:25 left. She added two free throws with 33.5 seconds remaining to increase the Gauchos' lead to 48-42.
"I didn't have a lot of time to think about it; I just had to catch and put it up," Pickett said of the three-pointer. "I felt it was going to be good when it left my hand. They were packing their zone to keep us from driving, so we had to attack it, then kick it out to our shooters."
Pickett made a three-pointer from just inside half court to beat the buzzer and pull the top-seeded Gauchos (27-6) even at the end of the first quarter, but Fairfax used a 15-9 scoring run to take a 23-17 halftime lead. Fairfax stretched the lead to 10 points on its first possession of the second half when Jonette Uy De Ong was fouled while making a three-pointer. She hit the free throw to put the second-seeded Lions up 27-17.
But Narbonne closed to within 31-29 by the end of the third quarter. Latecia Smith had 10 points and five steals, and Tori Breshers added nine points and 11 rebounds for Narbonne, which had lost to Marine League rival Carson in the previous two finals. On the court, the Gauchos have won 11 City titles, but their 1998 and 2006 crowns were later vacated.
Pickett hopes their latest triumph is the start of another dynasty.
"This means a lot because we've been here twice before and haven't won," Pickett said. "Also because our school has a lot of tradition, and we want to keep that going."
Fairfax (22-10) was trying to become the third Western League team to win a City title this season. Palisades won the Division II title Friday, and University won the Division III title earlier Saturday. The Lions were also trying to avenge a 54-51 loss in the finals of their own tournament Jan. 7.
Boys: L.A. Bell 45, Van Nuys Grant 39
Los Angeles Bell upset Van Nuys Grant, 45-39, in the Division III boys' basketball final to win its third City Section title and first since beating Hamilton to win the Invitational Division in 2007.
The second-seeded Eagles (20-5) outscored Grant, 27-18, in the second half. Mychael Deas finished with 18 points and six rebounds, and Daniel Lopez added 11 points and four assists for Bell, which made 15 of 40 from the field and seven of 18 three-point shots.
Gor Plavchyan had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Travis Wilson had nine points for the top-seeded Lancers (27-6), who shot 31.8% and made one of 12 three-point attempts. There were five lead changes and two ties.
Girls: University 62, Marshall 46
Los Angeles University won the girls' Division III final, defeating Marshall, 62-46. Myangel Johnson finished with 20 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks, Brittany Martin had 15 points, and Precious Nwaba had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Wildcats (17-9), who outscored Marshall, 25-13, in the fourth quarter.
Senior forward Sarah Takizawa-Maclean had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Courtney Wong scored all nine of her points in the first half for the ninth-seeded Barristers (19-10), who took their only lead, 31-30, on Takizawa-Maclean's layup with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
Boys: Animo South Los Angeles 49, View Park Prep 47
William Brown and Kyree Jefferson each scored 15 points and Brian Cook hit a game-winning three-pointer with eight seconds left to lift eighth-seeded Animo South Los Angeles (20-7) to a 49-47 upset of View Park Prep in the boys' small schools final. All-City guard Sheldon Wright scored 30 points for the second-seeded Knights (16-16).
Girls: Dantzler 53, Elizabeth Learning Center 38
Freshman Dijanai Williams had 23 points and 10 assists and junior forward Evin Sullivan added 10 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks for first-year program L.A. Dantzler (21-11), which won the girls' small schools division with a 53-38 victory over top-seeded Cudahy Elizabeth Learning Center (18-8).