The Conquistadors came out of Taft with a 67-59 victory over the consensus team to beat in the West Valley League to begin their league season 1-0. The game was close throughout and once the fourth quarter started the volume never dropped in what is always a loud Taft gym.
El Camino didn’t start fasting, finding themselves down 10-3 early on in the first quarter, but seniors Eddy Egun and Mansoor Azizi brought them back to within three, ending the first quarter 13-10.
The game was fast-paced throughout but in the first half, it felt like Taft had a handle on the Conquistadors. Seniors Kihei Clark and Makani Whiteside held down the offense for the Toreadors, who led 30-25 at halftime. They were able to have their way inside on El Camino early, and Taft had good success from behind the arc, but the Conquistadors kept it close.
Coming out of halftime, El Camino began to push the tempo even more, and Taft began to lose their edge. El Camino took the lead in the third quarter and never lost it after that. Jahville Collins, a transfer from Kennedy, provided the scoring depth the Conquistadors needed to sustain losing Egun for a few minutes at the end of the third. After Clark got his team within three points of the lead, Collins hit a big three, leading to an eruption from the crowd and keeping the Conquistadors lead more comfortable. Once Egun returned, he and Azizi iced the game with free throws and Taft never got close again.
Egun dropped 21 for the Conquistadors, and Collins and Azizi added 16 and 14 respectively. All three of the Conquistadors top scorers were able to stretch the floor, scoring in the paint and from three to keep Taft from stopping any one of them. After a relatively slow first half, El Camino exploded for 42 points in the second while holding Taft to just 29. Besides scoring, Egun and Azizi played for most of the game, and Egun had his hands full on defense guarding the Virginia-bound Clark most of the night.
For the Toreadors, Clark and Whiteside led the team in scoring, with Clark putting up 17 mostly in the fourth quarter and Whiteside adding 14, though he only scored four points in the second half. Taft was touted as the top team in the West Valley League heading into the night, but wins by Birmingham and El Camino are proving that this league is one of the toughest in the City section.
These two teams will match up again at El Camino on January 26, as Clark and his Toreadors will look to get some revenge.