“Our coaches just kept telling us keep playing, keep sticking with the gameplan and keep being us,” said sophomore wing Daimon Aidean Rainey Jr. “We all just lifted each other up and encouraged each other and we bought into what the coaches were saying."
Taylor is in a battle near the top of District 19-6A.
The Mustangs have dealt with a number of teams vying for playoff position, as a number of schools all have been fighting to get into the top four and in playoff position.
All of that makes every game important in the district, but none more so than what the Mustangs faced Wednesday night.
Taylor had a chance to move two games ahead of fourth place Cinco Ranch when they faced the Cougars and stay within reach of first place, and they did just that, having to fight until the last moment but coming away with a 55-48 win over the Cougars in what was a back and forth affair.
“This is such a competitive district from top to bottom,” said Taylor head coach Matthew Brayton. “It is going to be a dogfight every single night and we talk about being focused on every game. But we knew how important tonight would be, it’s very hard to come to Cinco Ranch and win a game. To come in here and fight the way we did and get this win, it’s huge.”
It was a back and forth game from the opening tip, Taylor took the lead early and built on that to start the second quarter, but just as quickly the Cougars came back to control things, using their size advantage and good defense to take a 27-20 lead heading into halftime.
The Cougars came out hot to start the second half as well and built a 12 point lead, but the Mustangs never lost confidence, kept their belief and started to get back into it, locking down on defense, forcing turnovers and playing tough offense as they started to trim the lead throughout the third quarter.
“Our coaches just kept telling us keep playing, keep sticking with the gameplan and keep being us,” said sophomore wing Daimon Aidean Rainey Jr. “We all just lifted each other up and encouraged each other and we bought into what the coaches were saying. Once we executed, we just started playing so much better.”
The Mustangs found their consistency down the stretch and were able to hold on to the lead, even when things got tight in the final minutes of action. Brayton attributed it to the teams fight and their knowing how important it would be to take home a win on the night. Elijah Melchiorre was a huge part of that, as he made a huge impact in the paint and on the boards to keep Cinco Ranch from getting easy points that the Cougars had gotten when they went on their run.
“He’s been such a big piece for us being a three-year starter,” Brayton said. “He’s been through the ups and downs and he just knows how to compete. He’s one of those guys who plays the top players harder than anyone. He has one speed, he hates to lose and he always makes an impact. I always trust him to make plays and do the right things for us.”
Jabari Parker was the leading scorer for the Mustangs with 15, while Rainey had 14 and Melchiorre had eight.
Taylor is half a game back of second in district after the win and they know that they’ll have to continue bringing their A-game moving forward, but the Mustangs are ready for the challenge.
“This was such a big win for us and we’re going to enjoy it,” Smith said. “Now we have to keep playing our brand of basketball, go out and show everyone why were here and in the position we are in.”
Taylor 55, Cinco Ranch 49
Points: (T) Jabari Smith 15, Daimon Aidean Rainey Jr. 14, Elijah Melchiorre 8, Luke Robbie 5, Reece Hymowitz 2, Logan Plemons 2; (CR) Drew Joyce 16, Harrison Moore 6, Jake Van Slyke 7, Nashir Waters 5, Emmanuel Gregory 5, Prince Jones Bynum 3, Luke Ferrell 2;
Halftime: CR 27-20; 3-pointers: (T) Rainey 4, Jabari Parker 2, Robbie, Melchiorre; (CR) Joyce 2, Van Slyke, Gregory; Records: Taylor 19-7, 6-1; Cinco Ranch 15-9, 4- 3
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