Westchester downs Taft for tourney title
Role players proved to be the difference for ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 6 Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) in the Westchester Tip-Off Classic this past weekend.
The Comets' bench used big-game know-how while knocking off No. 22 Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.), 71-62, in the tourney championship on Saturday night.
Menas Stephens, a 6-foor-4 senior reserve, hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Tre'vonne Williams added three rebounds, a field goal and a whole lot of defensive intensity.
"Williams hasn't played much, but he did a great job defensively," said Westchester coach Ed Azzam. "Stephens hit a couple of really big shots. We ask him to do a lot -- he has to because he's supposed to. Williams is up from the JV, so anything we get from him is a plus."
Role players aside, Westchester (4-0) got a team-high 24 points from returning All-State guard Jordin Mayes.
Taft, considered Westchester's main roadblock for a repeat CIF Division I state title, pulled to within 51-49 in the fourth after trailing 32-22 at halftime.
Taft (3-1) was competitive thanks to its 23-8 advantage off the offensive class, but the Toreadors ultimately gave up too many unforced turnovers.
Key Westchester Run
Senior wing Kareem Jamar hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Westchester a 23-15 lead in the second. He finished the second quarter with three triples to help the Comets open up a double-digit halftime lead. For the game, Jamar made five of seven 3-point attempts to finish with 19 points and three assists.
"Yeah, I got a little confidence," Jamar said. "Once I hit my first jumper, I felt every one was going down."
Key Taft Run
Two big blocked shots by tourney MVP Dwayne Polee Jr. led to a three-point play by Mayes that gave Westchester a 49-40 lead with 6 1/2 minutes remaining.
That's when DeAndre Daniels went to work.
He nailed a 3-pointer to make the score 51-43, then went coast-to-coast on a spectacular and-1 dribble-drive move to make the score 51-46. The long Texas recruit then came up with a steal that led to a three-pointer by Spencer Dinwiddie, making the score 51-49.
But the Toreadors would get no closer.
Daniels scored 29 points -- 22 in the second half -- and added 16 rebounds, five blocks and three steals.
"When they put pressure on us, it hit us in the face," Daniels said. "People coming off the bench got to come in, watch what's going on and play hard. We have to stay with out game plan. We'll see them again."
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