Cleveland extends their winning streak to seven in a 80-33 route over Taft


The Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Taft Toreadors on Friday, January 12th, 2024 with both teams heading in opposite directions in the West Valley League. The 8-6 Cavaliers headed into Friday night soaring high after winning their sixth consecutive game in their first league win of the season, shooting 53% from behind the arc in a home 68-52 win over El Camino Real. The 2-15 Toreadors have had their struggles this season, as they lost a tough 57-47 loss to Granada Hills on their home floor for their eleventh consecutive loss. Cleveland jumped out to an astounding 20-0 lead to start the game, as their defensive dominance and ball movement propelled them to a blowout 80-33 victory to improve to 2-0 in league play.

Cleveland overwhelmed Taft defensively with a relentless backcourt press and trapped the Toreador guards as soon as they crossed half court. The Cavaliers forced three early turnovers that led to easy transition points on the offensive end and they jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead two minutes into the contest. Freshman guard T.J. Wansa scored nine of his eleven first quarter points from behind the arc, with senior Souljah Niles adding six points of his own while staying active on the glass for Cleveland.

The Cavaliers defense held the Toreadors to only six points in the first quarter, as they buoyed their way to a twenty point lead. Taft doubled their first quarter point total in the second quarter, but the defensive consistency continued for Cleveland as they took charges and dove on the floor for every loose ball. Eight different Cavaliers put points on the board in the second quarter to close the half heading into the locker room with a 45-18 halftime lead.

The onslaught from Cleveland continued into the second half as their backcourt press continued to overwhelm the Toreadors. Niles and forward Jacob Mathis remained active on the offensive glass to earn second chance points for their team. The two seniors were amongst four different Cavaliers who had double figure outputs along with Wansa and junior Roman Finney.

Cleveland Head Coach Dagem Asfaw points to Friday night’s game as a prime example of his team’s ability to share the ball with one another, “Once we get that ball moving, we’re a VERY deadly team.”

As the Cavaliers cruised to their seventh consecutive win, the 47-point win signifies a potential shifting of the tides in the West Valley league rivalry. “[Just] the history of this rivalry with Cleveland and Taft”, states Asfaw, “it hasn’t been there in a long time. It’s time for Cleveland to step up and take that mantle.” The Cavaliers will travel to Providence for a non-league contest against the Pioneers at 7:00 pm looking to extend their win streak to eight. 

*All photographs provided courtesy of VST intern Benjamin Becher

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