PaliHi’s Johnson Wins State Coaching Award

17-Johnson, TorinoTorino Johnson, the girls basketball coach at Palisades High, was named State Division I Coach of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports in April. He was also named as City Section Coach of the year.

In March, Johnson’s team advanced to the opening round of the State Division I playoffs against Chaminade, which was ranked second nationally and first in California. Although the Dolphins (ranked 388 nationally and 51 in the state) lost 79-67, they put up one of the better fights in the tournament. Chaminade went on to defeat Miramonte in the finals.

One reason PaliHi was competitive is that Torino scheduled nonleague games with tougher opponents, giving his girls an opportunity to test themselves. In an earlier interview with the Palisades News, Johnson said, “I never schedule bad teams—there are no cream-puff games.”

Johnson came to PaliHi in 2007 and the girls program has soared under his leadership, with four L.A. City Section titles in six years, and most recently capturing the section’s first two Open Division titles. (The City created an open division for girls basketball in 2014-15 in order for the best teams to play more competitive playoff games.)

A graduate of Manual Arts and USC (2005), Johnson doesn’t back down against challenges and expects the same from his athletes. He was recognized for his talents last year when he was one of four coaches selected to assist in the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team Trials at Colorado Springs.

Johnson, who works as a special aide at PaliHi, emphasizes discipline and fun with his program and works with his players year round.

During the season, varsity players practice Monday through Saturday. He also insists that his girls keep their grades high.

“The kids are dedicated student-athletes who sacrifice weekends,” Johnson said. “I remain inspired to mentor young adults—not only to teach them basketball skills, but also help them understand the ways in which basketball can help them become productive adults.”
Torino Johnson. Photo: Bart Bartholomew

 

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