Taft Uses Big Third Quarter to Pull Away for Win


The Taft Senators emerged victorious on Friday night over the Aiken Falcons, 78-52. It took a big 30-7 run from the Senators in the third quarter to pull away, but otherwise the game was close.

Prior to the game, Taft Coach DeMarco Bradley Sr. said, “We need to play Taft basketball tonight to get the win. We need to hustle and stick together.”

On the other side, Aiken Coach Ty Cass said, “we need to play with a lot of energy for 32 minutes. We’ve had some trouble putting together full games, and we need one tonight to come away with a win.” Cass also said he wanted to slow Taft down while still getting out in transition, and that this would be key for the Falcons.

In the first quarter, both sides stuck to their game plan, as Aiken forced Taft to play in the half court and Taft maintained a high level of hustle, particularly on defense.

Neither team was able to get much offense going as a result, and the quarter ended with Taft leading by three, 12-9.

The second quarter was more of the same story for the first six minutes, until the Senators seized some control in the final two minutes to take a 29-22 lead into the half.

Junior, Chris’seon Stringer led all scorers with 18 points and was a force down low.

The third quarter started out with Aiken making a run, and even cutting the lead down to three, 30-27. However, Taft responded with a 30-7 run over the final six minutes of the quarter to push the lead to 60-34.

The fourth quarter was competitive, with both teams scoring 18 points. But the Taft run proved to be too much for Aiken, and the Falcons were downed by the Senators 78-52.

Stringer led Taft in scoring with 20 points, earning him player of the game honors. Senior Michael Peppers was second with 17 points. Senior Derrick Heard also chipped in 13 points.

For Aiken, freshman Jakada Stone led the team with 18 points, while junior D’Arris Dean and senior Blake Smith each scored 12.

After the game Coach Bradley expressed his joy with the victory. “This is only the second time we’ve had our whole team this year. When we’re healthy we are going to be a tough out for anyone, and tonight we showed that.”

“We were able to shut down the offense tonight, it was like a hot knife cutting cold butter,” Bradley said. “We wanted the offense to ‘melt’ with our defense, and I think we accomplished that.”

“Our defense played together and we played tough, and it made it difficult for them,” Stringer said.

Aiken returns to action Monday, January 22nd at 7:30 p.m., on the road at Mount Healthy. Taft returns on Friday, January 26th against Woodward at 7:30 p.m.