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Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
CARMEL VALLEY – Anthony January isn’t on Woodland Hills Taft’s roster in the Holiday Classic program, and Torrey Pines was the most recent team to discover that the 6-foot-7 senior forward makes the Toreadors one of the best teams in the state. In the National Division second round on Wednesday night, the host Falcons started slow and couldn’t catch up with January and Taft in a 56-39 loss.
“They were very, very talented,” said Torrey Pines head coach John Olive. “Our goal was to shorten the game, keep the ball in Garrett (Galvin) and Joe (Rahon)’s hands as much as possible and let them make plays for us. We pretty much followed that, but we didn’t make as many shots as we needed to make.”
Torrey Pines (8-4) didn’t score a field goal for the first six minutes of the game as Taft (10-1) raced out to a 13-3 lead. From the outset, the Falcons had trouble rebounding against the Toreadors’ frontcourt of January and 6-foot-7 senior forward Brandon Perry.
“I was surprised that keeping it tight defensively we couldn’t keep them off the boards a little better – they got a lot of offensive rebounds,” Olive said.
In the second quarter Torrey Pines quickly cut Taft’s lead to five points, but the Toreadors stretched it out to 27-14 by halftime. January punctuated the second quarter with a fast break dunk – two of his 12 points in the first two quarters.
“I really felt it out there and took advantage of their smaller guards,” January said. “We look to take advantage of our size all the time.”
Late in the third quarter, Torrey Pines went on a 7-0 run to make it 31-23 and stay within reach of Taft. But the Toreadors scored the first six points of the fourth quarter and maintained a double-digit lead thereafter to hand the Falcons a 16-point defeat.
“Anytime our kids can see what it’s like and to see another team play that way – to feel the traps and feel the physicality of how the other team is playing and the conviction and confidence the other team is playing with – it gives our kids a feeling of how they should be,” Olive said.
Galvin led Torrey Pines with 23 points, including 16 in the second half. The 6-foot-4 senior who has grown seven inches since his freshman year is averaging 25.7 points in three Holiday Classic games.
“We asked him to change his jump shot last year – to raise it and get it up to eye-level,” Olive said. “He worked hard during the summer to make that adjustment and he’s shooting better and better as the games come along. He’s always had that shake about him – that ball handling ability.”
Rahon also finished in double figures for the Falcons, adding 10 points. The senior has struggled with his shot during the tournament while battling turf toe.
“In a perfect world right now we need some rest, but we don’t have that luxury,” Olive said. “We’re getting better and I think we’re going to be even better in January and February.”
January, who has given a verbal commitment to Texas-El Paso, notched a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead Taft – and was one of three Toreadors in double figures along with Perry (17 points) and point guard Kris Yanku (10). January became eligible to play at Taft earlier in December after beginning his high school career at Compton and spending the past year being home-schooled by his mother.
“I stayed in shape and focused on my studies. That’s the main reason why my mom had to check me out – she felt I was falling behind academically,” January said. “I really missed basketball – I missed it a lot. It’s a blessing to be back and I’m playing hard now.”
Taft advances to play Los Angeles Windward (7-4) in the first National Division semifinal tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Torrey Pines High. Torrey Pines plays San Jose Archbishop Mitty (6-1) at 5:25 p.m.
Taft – 56 (15-12-6-23)
January 22, Perry 17, Yanku 10, Jones 3, Gentle 2 (starters) Avila 2
Torrey Pines – 39 (6-8-11-14)
Galvin 23, Rahon 10, Milmoe 3, Murray 3, Worman 0 (starters)
Pictured: Taft forward Anthony January throws down a dunk over Torrey Pines forward Sean Milmoe