Taft erupts for 45 points during final two periods in victory

There’s nothing worse for a team than to lose a game they were supposed to win. It nearly happened to the Taft varsity boys basketball team Monday night before they pulled away in the second half to defeat the Arvin Bears 68-52 in Taft.

With the victory, Taft improves to 10-10 overall and 4-3 in the South Sequoia League.

The first half was a much different story than the second half.

Taft went on a 6-2 run to begin the first quarter thanks to Danny Romo’s two free throws and layups from Steven Gee and Jacob Lopez. The game turned into a seesaw battle with Arvin staying in striking distance at 6-4 and 8-7 on a fall away jumper and Eddie Herrera’s three-pointer.

The Wildcats threatened to pull away with a 4-2 run to lead by five with 1:40 to go. However, Arvin’s Homer Avalos scored on a layup with 49 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to three.

Gee gave Taft a five point lead 12 seconds into the second quarter. Despite the basket, the Wildcats were unable to increase the difference but were able to hold on to a small lead.

Arvin finally erased the deficit with 4:13 to go with Herrera’s three-pointer.

The Bears went on to outscore the Wildcats 5-1 the rest of the way to hold a 27-23 lead at the halftime break.

“We were pretty lethargic in the first half,” said Taft coach Harold Heiter.

The dynamics of the game changed in the third quarter. Within the first minute of the quarter, Taft reeled off seven straight points with Gee scoring four points while Romo completed a three-point play.

Arvin’s Alezae Suggs ended the scoring surge with a layup at the 6:23 mark to cut the deficit to 32-29. Josh Tiger followed up with a pass top Lopez for a layup. The Bears stayed within striking distance, eventually cutting the lead down to two on David Cardenas turnaround jumper.

Taft took off from there by going on a 10-2 run over the remaining minutes of the quarter to lead 44-34. After Mitchell Emberson extended the lead to 12 10 seconds into the final quarter, Arvin roared back on Andreas Hernandez’s three-pointer, Suggs’ completion of a three-point play, Avalos’ steal and layup and Malachi Longmire’s steal and layup. The ten straight points whittled the deficit down to 46-44 with 6:54 to go.

Momentum changed for good when the Wildcats went on a 17-4 run with Gee scoring four points in a matter of seconds on a fastbreak layup and a steal and layup underneath the Arvin basket.

Arvin’s offense came alive again in the final 2:31 of the game with six points but Taft countered with seven to seal the victory.

Gee and Lopez each led Taft in scoring with 18. Romo followed with 10.

Taft returns to action Wednesday when they travel up to Delano to face Cesar Chavez. The game begins at 6:45 p.m.