Verdugo Hills defeat Taft 59 – 41 in the first round of the CIF LA City Section Girls’ Basketball Division I Championship.

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Verdugo Hills

On Thursday February 08, 2024, the Verdugo Hills Dons hosted the Taft Toreadors in the first round of the CIF City Section Division 1 playoffs. From tipoff, the Dons took an early lead and maintained the score advantage throughout all four quarters. The support of the home crowd gave confidence to the young Dons who played with passion the entire match. The Toreadors, despite the long commute, challenged the Dons in the first quarter; however, the Taft squad were unable to maintain their composure in the second and third quarter. Despite the valiant efforts of the Toreadors, it was a little too late for a comeback in the fourth quarter. Taft was unable to overcome Verdugo Hill’s eighteen-point lead late.

Two highlight performances for Verdugo Hills were the play of freshman, Amiyya Castanos and junior, Elaine Oh. The presence of Catanos and Oh allowed Verdugo Hills to close the game with a comfortable lead. Castanos finished the game with 12 points. Oh contributed with 12 points of her own. The Verdugo Hills victory was a team effort as most of the lineup stepped up to put the game out of reach for Taft. junior, Jezell Abdalnour and freshman, Nicole Olivera were also among the most consistent contributors for the Dons. Both Abdalnour and Olivera scored in all four quarters. Abdalnour scored 11 points and Oliver scored 15 points.

Coach Kevin Peterson Henry credits the team’s victory on their ability to settle down and remain composed despite the mistakes in the first half of the game. “We have a really young team. I appreciate the passion but we also need to settle down” were the words that Coach Peterson communicated to the Dons helping them rally in the third and fourth quarter.

Taft was led via the tenacity of sophomore, Saxon Bagby. Bagby finished the game with 13 points. Senior, Nardia Mckenney and junior, Claudia Aber were key in aiding the Toreadors in the match. In the first quarter Taft looked poised to get the potential upset. Unfortunately, in the second and third quarter there were too many mistakes made on behalf of the Toreadors. In the fourth quarter Taft were outscored by four points. The first and fourth quarter displayed the talent and spirit of the Toreadors who are a young team.

Coach Mark Drucker complimented the progress of the Toreadors. Despite the loss, Drucker was pleased with the performance of his team because the majority have little experience playing basketball. Drucker is eager to build around his young talent. “Let’s keep working hard in the offseason. We are going to build on skills. We are young and we will learn from this.”

The Verdugo Hills victory over Taft gives confidence to the Dons who will travel down the road to Sun Valley to face East Valley League rival Poly in the second round of the CIF LA City Section Girls’ Basketball Division I Championship. The Parrots had secured a bye in the opening round, and could be energized for this latest edition of the rivalry.. The Dons will face theParrots at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday Feb, 10.

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