Torino Johnson Resigns as PaliHi Girls’ Basketball Coach

Torino Johnson, who turned Palisades High School girls basketball into a City Section powerhouse, resigned at the beginning of August to become an assistant coach at Cal State Los Angeles under former WNBA star Cheryl Miller.

“The City Section has lost another elite coach,” said L.A. Times sportswriter Eric Sondheimer on August 2.

Johnson was voted L.A. City Coach of the Year three times, and in April 2016, he was named State Division 1 Coach of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.

Johnson became Pali’s head coach in 2007, after spending three years as assistant coach. His teams won four City Section championships.

Torino Johnson Photo: Bart Bartholomew

Last spring, for the third year in a row, the Dolphins reached the finals in the City Section Open Division playoffs, but lost by two points to Fairfax in overtime.

In his career at Pali, Johnson had 226 wins and 124 losses, but that figure is misleading. He never shied away from playing some of the toughest teams in the state.

As he told the News in 2015, “I never schedule bad teams—there are no cream-puff games.” He wanted his teams to be prepared for the post-season playoffs.

Even then, there was only so much Johnson could do as a coach. In the first round of the 2016 State playoffs, his Dolphins had to play Mater Dei, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. Pali was competitive after a disastrous first quarter, but ultimately lost 99-73.

Johnson was selected as one of four high school coaches from across the nation to assist in the 2015 USA Basketball Woman’s U16 National Team Trials at Colorado Springs.

Danielle Foley, 32, who played shooting guard at Azusa Pacific University, has been hired as Johnson’s successor. She joined the PaliHi faculty in January as a physical education teacher.

Foley coached two high school teams in Florida after college and then was then a varsity assistant at a school in South Dakota before landing an assistant coaching position at Azusa Pacific.

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