Drew, Taft make their own magic
Magic Johnson had a courtside seat for Saturday night’s City Championship Division basketball final at the Sports Arena, but the real magic was delivered by Woodland Hills Taft All-American guard Larry Drew Jr.
Displaying dazzle, determination and supreme confidence, Drew sliced his way for 24 points and six assists to help the top-seeded Toreadors defeat Los Angeles Fairfax, 65-55.
“At some point, people are going to recognize he’s the most disruptive force in California,” Taft Coach Derrick Taylor said of Drew. “He doesn’t have to score 30 points a game. He controls the tempo of every single game, and he’s unguardable. He dominated the basketball game.”
Drew, headed for North Carolina, turned in a performance similar to the one by the star he replaced four years ago, Jordan Farmar, who led Taft to the 2004 City title with a victory over Fairfax.
“I knew it was going to be up to me to carry us through, and that’s what I tried to do,” he said.
Taft (25-3) used balanced scoring and an effective man-to-man defense designed to contain Fairfax’s 6-foot-10 junior center Renardo Sidney. Sidney finished with 23 points, including six dunks, but he failed to make an impact when Taft started to pull away late in the third quarter.
Helping Drew were Justin Hawkins, who scored 13 points, Eugene Phelps, who had 11 points, and Bryce Smith, who made three three-pointers.
Sidney was held to four points in the first half when the Lions (25-5) fell behind, 33-25. He scored 10 points in the third quarter, with his basket pulling Fairfax to within 41-38 with 2:14 left. But Taft responded with a Phelps basket, a Drew scoop shot and a three-pointer from Smith. Fairfax never recovered.
Watching proudly from the stands was Drew’s father, Larry Sr., an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks and a onetime Lakers teammate of Johnson.
“I thought he was phenomenal,” Larry Sr. said of his son.
Taft’s offensive firepower and versatility was on full display. Drew was aggressive from the outset, contributing 12 points on five-for-12 shooting in the first half. He maneuvered his way down the lane, one time making a reverse layup over Sidney’s outstretched arms.
Taft found a way to keep Sidney relatively quiet in the first half. He settled mostly for outside shots except for his only two baskets, both dunks.
By winning, Taft stamped itself as the favorite to capture the state Division I championship. The Toreadors already own two wins over Compton Dominguez, which defeated Santa Ana Mater Dei, 63-60, to win the Southern Section Division I-AA championship.
Harbor City Narbonne 68, Chatsworth 57 -- Reiko Thomas scored 26 points and Tipsea Moorer had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Gauchos to the girls’ City Section Championship Division title at the Sports Arena.
It was the seventh City title for Narbonne, the last one coming in 2004. The Gauchos were stripped of their 2006 and 1998 titles because of sanctions.
Chatsworth got 16 points and five assists from Monica Jackson, and 15 points and 10 rebounds from Arizona State-bound Kimberly Brandon
“Is order restored in the universe? I would say so,” said Victoria Sanders, in her first season as the Narbonne coach.
Chatsworth (24-6) was seeded No. 1, Narbonne (28-4) No. 3.
Times staff writer Mike Terry contributed to this report.