Boys' basketball: Taft holds on for 45-44 win over El Camino Real
Fans couldn't have asked for a more tension-filled final 10 seconds of Wednesday's West Valley League opener between Taft and El Camino Real. Taft hadn't lost a league game on the court since 2005, but El Camino Real had the Toreadors right where it wanted them, having the ball with 10.9 seconds left and a chance to win.
Taft, however, toughened up its defense and didn't allow the Conquistadores to get off a shot, with Kris Yanku coming up with the ball on a steal from point guard Maleke Haynes as time expired, allowing Taft (12-3, 1-0) to escape with a 45-44 victory over the Conquistadores (9-6, 0-1) at El Camino Real.
"I liked how the coaches let me guard their best player the last play of the game," Yanku said. "I tried to get the stop. Brandon [Perry] helped real good. He showed the ball and I took it."
El Camino Real played aggressive defense inside, neutralizing Taft's size advantage with 6-foot-7 Anthony January, who struggled most of the game, and 6-6 Perry, who finished with 15 points.
"We made some immature plays at times, but if our effort was like that every game, we'll be very competitive," El Camino Real Coach David Rebibo said.
El Camino Real held a 42-41 lead with 4:08 left after a three-pointer by Mason Pollock. But baskets by Yanku and Perry put the Toreadors ahead, 45-42. Haynes scored for El Camino Real with 1:23 left to make it a one-point deficit.
Julian Richardson led El Camino Real with 17 points. Michael Thomas added 11 points. Steven Jones had 10 points for Taft.
In another West Valley League game, Birmingham defeated Granada Hills, 66-55. Andrew Estes scored 30 points for the Patriots.
-- Eric Sondheimer