The Taft High boys basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak Saturday with its first Class 3A Coastal Range League victory, 46-25 over visiting Warrenton.
“The real key to the game was the Tigers’ defensive intensity,” first-year Taft Coach Andy Morgan said.
The Taft girls lost to the Warriors, 61-19.
The boys improved to 6-9 overall and 1-4 in league play, while the girls fell to 0-5, 2-13.
Details from the girls game were not reported.
Score by Quarters
Taft 15 8 11 12 — 46
Warrenton 13 0 4 8 — 25
Taft leading offensive performers
Ray Darrington 15 points 16 rebounds 3 blocks
Tyee Fisher 10 points 9 rebounds 1 steal
Jordan Hall 9 points 6 rebounds 5 assists
Taft leading defensive performers
Graden Kehr and Fco Ramos
Taft Boys Basketball Coach Andy Morgan’s Comments
“After a disappointing first quarter, Taft was able to lock down on the visiting team. Sophomore Graden Kehr, earning another varsity start, was assigned to Warrenton’s leading threat, Dalton Knight, who lit up the Tigers for 30 points in Taft’s defeat by a single bucket last Saturday. Kehr took it personally and set out to change the ending to this week’s episode. Knight broke free for nine points in the opening frame, but Kehr shut him down in the second quarter, holding both Knight, and the entire Warrenton team, to no points.
“The home Tigers were quiet in the second period, scoring only eight, to take a lead a 23-13 lead at the half. Senior post Ray Darrington led all scorers with 11 in the first half. Jordan Hall, coming off the bench, hit a critical 3-pointer, sparking the team and inspiring the defense to lock down on the visitors. Rounding out the first half scoring for the Tigers was an early, deep shot for 3 from Kehr and two buckets from senior Tyee Fisher, including a dominant, closely contested breakaway flush by the Taft senior.
“The Tigers came out after halftime with the same defensive intensity. The man defense was really good— often inciting elbows and pushing from the frustrated Warrenton offense. Fco Ramos provided a break for Kehr on the defensive end. As Kehr went to the bench, Ramos continued to frustrate Knight on the Warrenton side of the hardwood. Ramos moves his feet extremely well and has remarkably quick hands. It is a luxury for Taft to have two sophomores who can stifle a potent adversary as they were able to do with Knight. The youth movement, including freshman Kaden Hindman, has really lifted the Tigers, who are struggling with the absence of top defenders such as Eli DeMello and Lucas Hindman, who are recovering from early season injuries.
“Younger brother Kaden Hindman opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer from the corner, showing the visitors the full strength of the Tiger bench. Also adding to the Tigers’ scoring in the fourth quarter were Ramos, Hall, Darrington, Tyee Fisher and senior captain Clay Nelson. Nelson is somewhat of a utility player, usually playing on opposing post players, and as a wing and post on offense. Nelson has yet to miss a minute of practice or game this season. He’s one of the hardest workers in practice, and one of the peskiest defenders. Not considered a top threat, Nelson gets his work done in the shadows while making everyone on the roster better.
Aside from seven made free throws, the visiting team only scored two buckets in the second half — the Tigers holding them to 12 points. Finishing the game 46-25 accomplished all of Taft’s pre-game goals.
“As the Tigers look to continue improving defensively, the team recognizes the need to produce more on the offensive end. Ball movement has often been a challenge as the Tigers search for answers. The five assists by Hall were a really good sign for the Tigers. As a scoring leader, Hall has struggled to find balance with some of his teammates — often creating opportunities for defenders. Hall did a nice job of balancing out his attack and finding his teammates in scoring opportunities. Leadership has been a challenge for the Tigers, with so many injuries and time missed by players.
“Everyone played a great game, including the lone Tiger to not find the scorebook — Trenton Fisher. The “Little Fish” as he is known, has returned from an extended absence due to illness. The coaching staff has limited his minutes as Trenton has returned to health. The Warrenton contest has been the biggest test for Fisher—he played in all four quarters, and was a potent ball handler, and defender. A key to the success of the Tigers, court leadership by ‘little fish” and Hall will be very important.
“The Tigers’ next matchup is Tuesday, a home game against Rainier, which embarrassed the Tigers two weeks ago in Rainier. The Tigers will work hard to respond and continue the march toward the top of the standings. In a bit of a hole at this point, the Tigers are coming together, hopefully, to be ready for the challenge.”