Los Angeles Preps: Brandon Baker

Loyola outlasts Crenshaw in first round

March, 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- Julian Harrell still hasn't gotten over Loyola's loss to Mater Dei in the CIF-Southern Section semifinals. He says he thinks about the 10-point lead his team let slip away in the final 10 minutes against the state's top-ranked team and eventual Division 1AA champion.

It happened over a week ago, but the defeat still stings. Loyola used it as motivation Wednesday night, beating Crenshaw 103-91 before a capacity crowd in the first round of the Southern California Regionals.

"I'm not over the loss, to be honest," said Harrell, who scored a team-high 25 points. "I'm still trying to swallow that loss. ... That's in the past, but we do want another shot at [Mater Dei]."

Fourth-seeded Loyola (25-5) will face Etiwanda in the second round Saturday night and, with a win, will likely get another crack at the top-seeded Monarchs in the regional semifinals.

Sharpshooter Jacob Hazzard had 22 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Cubs. Senior Khaliq Bedart-Ghani added 16 and an electrifying breakaway dunk. Super sophomore point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 12 points and 10 assists.

Loyola held a 51-40 lead following an up-and-down, fast-paced first half. Crenshaw had twice fallen behind by double figures but responded with runs, including a 9-0 spurt midway through the second quarter. The Cubs answered with a 17-4 run, highlighted by a pair of dagger 3-pointers from role player Trey Mason.

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Taft, Dorsey advance to title game

February, 25, 2012
CARSON -- Jason Hart didn’t know any of his players when he stepped into the Woodland Hills Taft gym for the first time last summer. All he knew, really, was that he had big shoes to fill after longtime coach Derrick Taylor left for St. John Bosco.

It’s safe to say Hart, in his first year coaching high school basketball, knows his team well now. The 33-year-old coach -- who wears cardigans, jeans and sneakers on the sideline -- has picked up right where the successful Taylor left off.

Top-seeded Taft advanced to its fifth consecutive CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I championship game Saturday, hanging on to beat fifth-seeded Crenshaw, 64-63, at the Torodome on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills.

“I think this proves that a young coach can get the job done if they know what they’re doing,” Hart said. “This team was brand new to me. This means a lot, not just for me but the kids. They fought hard. They’re the ones that deserve the credit.”

Taft (27-3), the defending section champion, clicked quickly following Taylor’s departure. The Toreadors bought into Hart’s philosophy. They believed in him.

“That’s why we’re in the championship game.” said Hart, who played nine seasons in the NBA.

Senior forward Anthony January dunked his way to a game-high 24 points, and also pulled down 10 rebounds. Guards Steve Jones and Kris Yanku each had 14 points in support.

The Toreadors built a 21-point lead but carelessness allowed Crenshaw (24-5) to chop away. A 3-pointer from Brandon Baker pulled the Cougars to within five with 45 seconds remaining, Crenshaw got another defensive stop and a spectacular left-handed scoop shot from Andre Edwards, and the Taft lead was trimmed to three with 15 seconds left.

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