The Taft Toreadors are second in the West Valley League with a 9-1 record (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

The Open Division City Section Boys Basketball Championship came down to the wire. The Fairfax Lions worked to close a 10-point deficit to two but could not overcome the Taft Toreadors, who secured a 64-62 victory.

“My whole high school career, I got to the semifinals, multiple times,” said Toreador senior forward Keyon Kensie. “This is my first time in the championship and it’s good to get a ring for my coaches and my teammates.”

Lions senior guard Donald Bluitt III led all scorers with 26 points. Kensie led Taft with 21 points.

The championship title game consisted of seven ties (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Bluitt III gave the Lions an explosive start, hitting the first shot of the game and helping them establish a 12-5 lead. Bluitt III noted how Fairfax reached Pasadena City College early to prepare for the title match.

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“I started off the game hot and I just got to my spots,” Bluitt III said. “I had to believe every time I shot the ball, I was like ‘this is gonna go in,’ so that’s how I was thinking the whole game.”

Kensie then found his scoring rhythm and tied the game up with 1:49 left in the first quarter. Fairfax senior guard Darius Carr pushed the pace and made plays in the second quarter, but the Toreadors kept the game close.

Toreadors junior guard Derrick Hill (22) and senior forward Keyon Kensie (3) (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

By halftime, Taft was ahead 33-32, the first half consisting of six ties. Remaining confident in each other was an important factor for the Toreadors, according to junior guard Bishop Brooks.

“We let go of our conscience, we didn’t think about too many things and all the bad things, we let it just go out the window,” Brooks said. “I just remained confident in myself and believed that I can still play this game.”

Fairfax senior Darius Carr (2) scored 23 points against Taft (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Fairfax went on an eight-point run to start the third quarter. Taft relied on their box defense to thwart the Lions’ offensive efforts.

“It was leading us to get rebounds,” Toreador sophomore Adam Grissom said about their defense. “We had Keyon Kensie getting rebounds. We had me, Derrick Hill, Bishop Brooks, all of them getting rebounds.”

Taft sophomore forward Adam Grissom (24) scored 11 points (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Taft forced turnovers and made offensive rebounds to execute a seven-point run in the fourth quarter. Three-pointers from Carr kept the Lions competitive as regulated minutes ran down. With 8.6 seconds left in the game, Bluitt III hit a three-pointer to bring Fairfax within two points. Carr heaved for a three-pointer and missed as the time expired.

Carr scored 23 points, Grissom made 11 points and Brooks scored 10 points.