<
>

LA North & LA South:
Taft, Leuzinger redo early season thriller

3/11/2010

Back in December, the Taft Toreadors visited Los Angeles-area power Leuzinger and sneaked out with a 60-59 win.

But things are different now, as the Olympians of Lawndale are on a 21-game winning streak heading into Thursday's Southern California Division I second-round regional game. They haven't lost a game since last year, and rival coaches have said they're much improved.

"Oh, they're better," Taft coach Derrick Taylor said Thursday. "But there's no doubt that we're both better teams."

Leuzinger offers a balanced attack unlike most. Each of the Olympians' starters can be prolific scorers, including Amir Garrett (16.8 points a game) and Delon Wright (13.3). Wright didn't play against the Toreadors in December.

Aqeel Quinn and Colroy Gordon combine for another 23 points a game for Leuzinger.

"Any time you've got a team who gets five guys in double figures, you know they're going to be a lot to handle," Taylor said. "No matter who you are."

While Taft tends to rely on stars Bryce Jones and DeAndre Daniels, the Toreadors also have received solid production from reserve Jordan Gathers and Pierson Williams in recent games. Taylor noted that Williams averages more minutes per game than Jones or Daniels.

Gathers and Williams combined to score 27 points in Taft's 66-65 first-round win over Loyola on Tuesday, in which the Toreadors used staunch defense to stop the visiting Cubs from a potential winning shot in the waning seconds.

Taft fell to Westchester last weekend in the City Section Division I championship game at the Galen Center — a loss Taylor attributed partly to the "different atmosphere" in the college-style arena — but the Toreadors rebounded against Loyola. But Leuzinger just hasn't slipped up. The Olympians routed Santa Monica to win the Southern Section Division 1A title and swept past Washington on Tuesday in the opening round of the state playoffs.

Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Taft for tonight's second-round battle.