Boys Basketball Team Reaches State Tourney

Junior guard Aaron Johnson drives for a layup during a January 14 game against Westchester. Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer
Junior guard Aaron Johnson drives for a layup during a January 14 game against Westchester. Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

The Palisades High boys basketball team earned a berth in the CIF State tournament despite its loss February 23 in the City Section semifinals to Westchester and traveled to play Mission Viejo last night.

PaliHi won its first two City playoff games at home, trouncing San Pedro, 88-65, and edging Fairfax for the third time this season, 54-46, before falling to Westchester, which proceeded to defeat El Camino Real, 65-59, for its 11th City title.

With a win, the ninth-seeded Dolphins would either play at top-seeded Santa Monica or host 16th-seeded Narbonne on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Pali girls team was not in the State playoffs as of Tuesday, though its status could still change.

The Dolphins defeated Chatsworth in their opening City playoff game, 54-35, before falling to Fairfax, 54-46. They then beat Taft, 46-32, before knocking off Carson, 51-46.

If in fact the Dolphins do participate in the State playoffs, it will be no small feat for a team that had a topsy-turvy season. Pali was just 15-20 overall and finished third in the Western League with an 8-4 mark.

“This is the least amount of talent we’ve had [the last few years, so it would be] much more rewarding than years past,” head coach Torino Johnson said of the prospects of reaching the State playoffs. “Teams from years past and this year’s team look nothing alike. It took us a very long time to gel.”