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Spencer Dinwiddie’s 18 points helped Taft get past Westchester and it earned him an MVP award. Photo by Nick Koza First step for Taft was beating Westchester this past SaturdayBy Eric Lambkins IISentinel Sports WriterPerennial basketball powerhouses Taft and Westchester squared off Saturday night in what may be a preview of the City championship game. The title game in the Trevor Ariza Tip-Off Classic proved to Westchester that their run at a three-peat for the City championship will not come easy.Taft made one thing evident after their 71-60 win, they have every intention of staking claim to the city title this March.The Toreadors proved to have too much size and strength in their frontcourt in 6-foot-10 260-pound behemoth senior center Kevin Johnson and 6-foot-5 senior power forward C.J. Blackwell, who transferred to Taft from a school in Georgia. Taft also got solid point guard play in tournament from MVP Spencer Dinwiddie, which Westchester could not manage.
After forcing several turnovers, Taft jumped to an early 11-0 run to start the game and had a commanding 23-8 lead to close out the first quarter. They led 39-22 at the half behind a 14-point half by Blackwell.Westchester clawed their way back into the game after senior forward Robert Gsellman led an inspired 14-2 barrage that brought the Comets within four points. Gsellman knocked down two huge 3-pointers and had a phenomenal tip-in during the Comets final push. He would finish with 15 points on the night.Westchester’s potential fourth quarter comeback was quashed when Dinwiddie converted back-to-back 3-pointers.Dinwiddie and Blackwell each finished the game with 18 points. Dinwiddie dished out six assists and Blackwell finished with 13 rebounds.If Westchester is to defend their consecutive city titles, they will have to account for the size, strength, and athleticism of Taft. They have enough talent and coaching to get the job done.