Pasadena Poly’s Harewood, Talt lead resurgence
Above: Pasadena Poly’s A.J. Talt, left, and John Harewood. (Staff Photo by Greg Andersen).
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
It seems like ancient history when, as freshmen, they experienced the lows of a two-win varsity season.
Pasadena Polytechnic School’s senior tandem of A.J. Talt and John Harewood now is experiencing perhaps its most successful season and creating a pattern of winning.
Both players have proven they can put the ball in the basket.
Talt and Harewood have been about as effective a one-two punch as any in the West San Gabriel Valley as the Panthers’ scoring leaders, along with teammate Bill Wardlaw, but things didn’t start out so rosy.
“Me, Johnny and Billy were all freshmen under a different coach, Les Bean, and we went 2-21,” Talt recalled. “Then the next year coach (Brad) Hall and coach (Rick) Carager came in and their whole message from that time on was we’re going to bring the program back to where it should be.”
Added Wardlaw: “They’ve always been solid basketball players, but our freshman year, we weren’t really together as a team and were still small. But as we’ve grown up, we’ve been able to put it back together.”
Poly has banked on Talt and Harewood’s leadership, as well as the 3-point prowess of Wardlaw, to regain success.
“I never lost confidence in our ability,” Harewood said. “I think with the two of us, we couldn’t help but create a competitive team by surrounding ourselves with people who are equally as hard-working as us, and I thought that we were bound to be successful eventually.”
They didn’t have to wait long for success to follow.
As sophomores, the duo led Poly to a tie for the league championship before going undefeated in league a year ago.
“I guess, just with experience, we keep getting better and better and our hard work has paid off as of late,” Harewood said. “It’s just being persistent, resolute and becoming better players and a better team and it’s paid off for us.”
Added Hall: “They both are deeply concerned about the success of this team. They’re just fine young men and are both very competitive kids.”
This season appeared to be shaping up to the ultimate climax to a successful career for the duo.
Talt once again is leading the Panthers (15-4, 3-1) in scoring while averaging 18.4 points and 8.9 rebounds.
“He’s a very good shooter, an excellent passer and has a great knowledge of basketball,” Hall said.
Harewood is right behind Talt at 15.7 points per game and 6.4 rebounds.
“Johnny’s main strength is his athleticism and scoring ability,” Hall said. “He’s capable of making some very spectacular plays.”
What makes the combination of Talt and Harewood so successful is an ability to score in different ways.
“They give you an inside-outside presence,” Hall said. “You have a real good guard in Johnny, and a really good forward in A.J., that’s pretty tough to stop.
“If you try to stop one of them, the other one will step up.”
If they are going to close out their prep basketball careers on a high note as seniors, Harewood will need to step up.
Talt suffered an ankle injury in a 53-44 win over Flintridge Prep on Jan. 19. When he can return to the lineup – or if he can – remains unclear.
“I have some hopes of maybe coming back,” Talt said. “Right now, I’ve kind of put my mind saying no, but if it works out, that’s great.”
Talt, meanwhile, is going to help his team in any way he can.
“I love being on a team like this where every guy works hard at all times,” Talt said. “Every guy wants it just as much as anybody else, so I know that, even though I’m not out there, I can still cheer the team on from the bench, and I know they’re not going to be lost out there.
“As much as I want to be out there my senior year, I know guys will step up and do what they need to do.”
Harewood knows what he needs to do and is determined to press on for his fallen teammate and friend.
“A.J. and I have had a close relationship just being the leaders of this team,” Harewood said. “We know what each other’s thinking on the court and just play really well together.
“I’ve enjoyed it and I’m disappointed that he’s gotten this injury his senior year, but he’s still with us there on the bench cheering us on, so there’s definitely support both ways, and we’re happy to have him, for sure.”
It’s not the first time Talt has dealt with injury during the season.
He broke his ankle during his sophomore season but, according to Hall, never missed a team practice.
“He’s that kind of a young man,” Hall said.
The injury shouldn’t keep Talt, a pitcher and first baseman for the Panthers’ baseball team, out of action too long.
“I may miss one or two (baseball) games, but I’ll be back pretty quick,” Talt said.
Following graduation, Talt will attend Stanford University, where he will be a non-scholarship player for the Cardinal baseball team.
“I have a shot, if I play well, to get (a scholarship),” Talt said.