Linfield Christian cagers head to CIF finals
Last updated 3/9/2007 at Noon
When the Linfield Christian Lions faced Pacific Hills of West Hollywood for the boys basketball CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship on Thursday, March 1, at Colony High School in Ontario, there was a Fallbrook connection on the court.
Led by Fallbrook residents Joshua Sandberg and Weston Taylor, Linfield Christian (21-8) was in the championship game for the first time in school history. After defeating number one ranked Maranatha of Pasadena last Friday 62-44, the number nine seed Lions feel very blessed. “We don’t mind being a Cinderella story,” Linfield head coach Scott Day said. “If anyone believed these guys could do it, it was me.”
Fallbrook athletes and Big Sky League all-conference candidates Sandberg and Taylor have taken the Lions basketball team just about as far as it can go. And the championship game couldn’t come any sooner, as Linfield’s court play is peaking at an opportune time. In the semifinal game against Maranatha, the Lions were able to create a disruptive atmosphere against the Minutemen from the opening tip-off. Taylor directed the defensive charge by recording seven steals. Meanwhile, the 6’6” Sandberg dominated the paint with eight blocked shots. Individually, Sandberg now has recorded 85 blocks for the season and moved into 13th place in the CIF rankings with a 2.9 per game average.
Sandberg ended with 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting, 8 rebounds and 8 blocks, while Taylor finished with 9 points, 8 assists and seven steals. Taylor now has recorded 161 season assists, a 5.6 per game average, and moves into the top 20 in the CIF individual rankings.
The Lions have now won a season high seven games in a row and 17 of their last twenty. And although no one can identify one specific reason for the success, there’s no doubt that point guard Weston Taylor’s leadership and unselfish play has provided a spark to this recent explosion. Last year Taylor led the team in scoring, but this year is a different story. Although his shot total and scoring average is down, he has 30 percent more assists and steals this season while reducing his per game turnover average. In addition, his recent clutch free throws late in the game have created a confidence level that the team now displays.
Taylor says that he has focused his total effort on making everyone around him better and it shows in his personal stat category, team wins and losses. Meanwhile, Sandberg has more “touches” per game this year and has taken advantage with a higher scoring average and field goal percentage. And his shot blocking skills are tops in the area.
The best part about this story is that the championship game on Thursday may not be the end of the season for the Lions; it appears they will be invited to participate in the CIF state tournament, which begins the week of March 5.
Coach Day has no limit for this team, saying, “We’ve never been this far and we’re going to find out how much farther we can go.” Only time will tell.