Los Angeles Preps: Denzel Johnson

LA North: Woodland Hills Taft 83, Clovis West 45

March, 8, 2011

WOODLAND HILLS -- The size advantage the Woodland Hills Taft boys' basketball team had over Clovis West was pretty evident.

Taft’s biggest player is center Kevin Johnson at 6 feet 10.

West’s biggest player is guard Denzel Johnson at a generous 6-3.

The game plan for the first-round game of the CIF State Division I playoffs was fairly obvious for Taft coach Derrick Taylor. Feed the ball to Johnson and take advantage of the mismatch in the paint.

Taylor’s strategy worked almost too well. Taft beat Clovis West, 83-45, as Johnson was one of four Toreadors who scored in double figures. He scored 12 and had 10 rebounds. Teammate Stephen Maxwell scored a team-high 17 and had nine rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie scored eight points and had 12 assists.

“We wanted to establish [Johnson] inside and take advantage of our size,” Taylor said. “This team can attack in a variety of ways. There’s a lot of versatility. We wanted to take advantage of that.”

Despite the blowout win, Taylor told his players in the locker room after the game not to make plans to play for the state championship in Sacramento just yet. Too many times in the past his teams have slipped up in the state playoffs and were eliminated in the early rounds.

Taft was in control from beginning to end against West. In the first quarter, Taft jumped out to a 12-0 lead. West cut the lead in half by the end of the quarter, but still trailed by 13 points, 26-13.

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CIF Boys Basketball State Division I playoffs

No. 3 Woodland Hills Taft (27-2) vs. Clovis West (25-5)

Taft won the CIF City Section Division I championship, 66-62, over Westchester. Clovis West lost the Central Section Division I championship, 54-51, to Bullard.

Taft coach Derrick Taylor might have a challenge getting his players to focus on the first round of the CIF State playoffs after an emotional win over Westchester. It was the first time in three tries Taylor and Taft beat Westchester to win the City championship.

But Taylor said his players were excited to be at practice on Monday. They are focused on the next task at hand. They have their sights set on a state championship.

“They’re all good. We’re in good shape,” Taylor said, adding that beating Westchester meant more to the players than him. “It was important to them. They made it about me.”

Here are the five keys for Taft against Clovis West:

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