What a strange but exciting night it was in City Section basketball Saturday night at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
One comeback succeeded and another failed, leaving fans exhausted and exhilarated.
In the first game of a Division I semifinal, top-seeded Woodland Hills Taft held off Crenshaw, 64-63. Crenshaw fell behind 23-7 in the first quarter and was down 34-13 in the second.
"Honestly, I think our team came out scared," forward Andre Edwards said.
Then came a fourth-quarter Crenshaw comeback that left the Toreadors squirming. In the end, Taft held on to earn a spot in the championship game for a fifth consecutive year while getting a good scare.
In the second semifinal, Dorsey was down 20-3 in the first quarter and 37-22 at halftime to No. 3-seeded Westchester.
This time, the comeback worked.
Donald Muepo Jr. scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Dons pulled out a 62-59 victory, setting up a Taft-Dorsey final next Saturday at Dominguez Hills.
Dorsey, seeded No. 7, took the lead for good on a Muepo dunk with 2:56 left. Regis Bula was also a key figure in the second half for the Dons (23-7).
"I feel we got lackadaisical when we took the lead," Taft guard Kris Yanku said. "They started hitting shots. The game turned around. They kept fighting and didn't give up and started hitting threes and getting easy baskets. We pulled it out. All we got is a W. That's all I care about."
Eight missed free throws in the third quarter by Taft (27-3) gave Crenshaw (24-5) the opening it needed.
The Cougars outscored Taft, 42-28, in the second half. Edwards scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. His three-point shot with six seconds left pulled Crenshaw to within a point of tying the score.
"These are kids. They're not pros," Taft first-year Coach Jason Hart said of his team's near collapse.
Anthony January led the Toreadors with 25 points. Yanku and Steven Jones had 14 points apiece.
In the City Section Division I girls' semifinals, top-seeded Harbor City Narbonne (26-6) defeated Marine League rival Carson, 72-34.
Fairfax defeated Woodland Hills El Camino Real, 44-37.