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Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG

High School Sports

Southern California Coach Earns Career Victory No. 500

ONTARIO, Calif. – The Colony High School Titans hosted the Ayala Bulldogs of Chino Hills on Tuesday, with the game ending in a 94-58 blowout victory for the Titans. Though the game may have seemed like a run-of-the-mill victory, this win held slightly more significance than the average regular-season matchup.

DeFabiis’s milestone

Longevity is the key indicator to a job well done in any profession. For Titans coach Jerry DeFabiis, this victory showed how he has epitomized the concept of longevity as it marked his 500th career win, with all but 69 coming as coach of the Titans.

“It’s more of a longevity achievement,” DeFabiis said about where the achievement ranks on his list. “It means I’ve been doing this for a while. It means I’ve had good players, good assistants. I’m grateful for all the help I’ve had through the years. But when you start ranking it against winning CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) titles and things like that, that’s tough because that’s what you do it for.”

Perhaps more impressive than the 500 wins is the amount of time he’s achieved them in. Colony opened classrooms to its first class of students in 2002. He took ahold of the basketball program and built it into what is today in his 22 seasons of work.

In under two decades, DeFabiis has coached his way to a plethora of accolades, the latest being a state championship appearance in 2019. On top of that, the Titans were CIF Finalists in 2005, 2008, and 2017, CIF Champions in 2006, 2017, and 2019, State Regional Champions in 2019, and League Champions every year from 2006 to the present day, excluding 2020.

Heading into the game, some believed that a few of the Titans players were aware of the potential milestone. However, DeFabiis was not the one to ever mention it to them.

“I haven’t said a word to them about it, even though I have a feeling other people have” he said. “I’m just trying to keep them focused on the game, because they’ll be a part of it if it happens, but I’m always about kids having good experiences. I’m trying to get them focused on the task at hand this year as far as staying up in the league race and staying up in the open division.”

DeFabiis’s squad remains a prep powerhouse, this year led by 6-foot-7 University of Minnesota commit Jaden Henley. Henley and company made light work of the Bulldogs, who entered the matchup with a 14-4 record.

Henley was one of the players who was aware of what was at stake. However, the senior felt that if they played the way they were supposed to, the rest would handle itself.

“It’s always another day of business,” Henley stated after the game. “We knew we were going to come in and win; we just wanted to make it special for him.”

From start to finish

The Titans made a loud statement by jumping out to a 15-0 lead early. DeFabiis has been known for producing an in-your-face defense that leads to easy offense. However, the Bulldogs let go of the jitters a few minutes in and began putting together some small runs.

Despite giving the Bulldogs a little confidence, the Titans kept their foot on the gas and took a 53-31 lead into halftime.

It was clear the break didn’t cool them off at all. The Titans (17-1) were in their bag defensively, and it led to countless transition dunks – sometimes on consecutive possessions. They led the Bulldogs (14-5) 79-43 by the end of the period, pretty much closing the lid on this one.

Indicative of their style of play, the Titans had made 31 of their 41 shots from the field as a team. They also finished the game with five players scoring in double figures, led by Henley with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Junior forward Jaidyn Simpson added 17 points and 6 rebounds for the Titans, while Donald Bluitt notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Kollen Murphy and Denzel Hines each added 12 points.

“I’m extremely happy with how we played,” DeFabiis said. “I thought we shared the ball on offense. I thought we were aggressive, but we ran our stuff. I thought we played pretty well on the defensive end… We took advantage of the things that they do that were not advantageous for them.”

Up Next

The Titans next host Glendora High School, of Glendora, CA, Wednesday night at 7 p.m. PST.

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