Taylor’s boys basketball team used a dominant fourth quarter to beat Eastern 49-41 in the Howard County Tournament opener Friday night at Center Court.
The Titans trailed 39-29 in the final minute of the third quarter — then outscored the Comets 20-2 the rest of the way including 18-2 in the fourth quarter. The Comets scored with :05 left to avoid a goose egg for the quarter.
Taylor coach Andy Lewman wondered if his team had let the game slip away when the Comets surged to the 10-point lead.
“I looked up [at the scoreboard] and thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Lewman said. “I had been trying to get the kids to push the tempo a little bit more since early in the the second quarter, maybe since late in the first quarter. We finally did it in the fourth quarter. And what we did probably more than push the tempo was we finally picked up our defensive pressure and that made a big difference for us.”
Indeed, the Titans’ hustle and defense sparked the big quarter. After Latrell Mitchell scored on a putback, Mitchell came up with a steal that led to Calvin Wheeler scoring in transition. Following an Eastern timeout, Taylor came up with another steal and Cole Schroeder cashed in with a pair of free throws at 5:26, bringing Taylor within 39-37.
Taylor (3-5) went in front for good when Darian Stone drilled a 3-pointer off Mitchell’s post kickout for a 40-39 lead at 4:40, prompting Eastern to call another timeout.
The Titans sealed the win by scoring five more points off of turnovers to go up 47-39 at 1:16.
Lewman liked his squad’s effort in the quarter.
“It was us just finally getting back to being scrappy, doing the things we work on every day,” Lewman said. “The kids did a great job of responding because I challenged them. We got to the point where it was do or we’re going to get beat. The kids came out and responded. We did a good job of rallying among ourselves and just competing every play.”