Wildcats outlasted in all three games

Through the first eight games of the season, the Taft junior varsity boys basketball team was flying high. That momentum came to a sudden end Saturday, Dec. 19 when they lost all three games in the Shafter Tournament.

“For only having a week of practice together, we looked okay,” said Taft coach Robert Lumsden. “There are things we found out that we need to work on over the break before our next game.”

With the three tournament losses, the Wildcats are now 7-4 on the season.

Taft’s tough run through the tournament started in the first game when Independence outlasted the Wildcats 47-45.

Independence got out to a fast start in the game by scoring 19 points in the first quarter while Taft was held to nine. After both teams scored eight in the second quarter, the Wildcats made a comeback in the second half with 16 points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth.

At the same time, Independence was held to 14 points in the third quarter and six in the fourth. Despite the second half surge Taft was unable to win the game.

“We just waited too long to start playing in this one,” said Lumsden. “They are a good team but this was definitely a winnable game if we play a complete game.”

Tyler Vega, Steven Gee and Vaughn Richardson led Taft in scoring with 8 while Brett Howard and Richardson each led the Wildcats in rebounds with 7.

The news grew worse in the second game after Centennial 52-45.

The game was close in the first quarter with Centennial edging out Taft 15-13. However, Centennial got some breathing room in the second quarter when they scored 21 points to the Wildcats 12.

“They were on fire in the first half, everything they put up seemed like it went in,” said Lumsden.

After both teams scored 10 points in the third quarter, Taft chipped away at the Centennial lead by outscoring Centennial 10-6 but it was not enough.

Joe Savaii led Taft in scoring with 12 and rebounds with 8. Jamie Gonzales followed in scoring with 10 while leading the team assists with 4. Vega and Steven Gee each led Taft steals with 2 while Savaii had 2 blocks.

Like the first game the Wildcats were involved in a tight game to close out the tournament. Taft faced the same outcome after falling to the Shafter Generals 58-55.

After both teams scored eight points in the first quarter, Shafter jumped out to a small advantage at the end of the first half by edging out Taft 14-13 in the second quarter. Taft countered by scoring 17 points in the third quarter to the Generals 13 to take a three-point lead into the final quarter. However, Shafter bounced back by outscoring the Wildcats 23-17 in the fourth to win the game.

Savaii led Taft in scoring with 15 points while Gonzales had 11 and Howard followed with 10. Howard led Taft in rebounding with 12 while Vega led Taft in assists and steals with 5 and 4 respectively.