Wildcats edges  Tehachapi by two points to go to 4-0

While the conditions outside the Taft High gym were cold and dreary Tuesday afternoon, the atmosphere inside the gym was a different story after the Taft freshmen boys basketball team’s offense woke up in the fourth quarter to defeat the Tehachapi Warriors 26-24.

“We came out and played very hard on the defensive end,” said Taft coach Corey Furman. “I’m very happy of the total output of the team today.”

With the victory, Taft improves to 10-6 overall and 4-0 in the South Sequoia League.

Defense had the upper hand in the early minutes of the game with neither team scoring a basket over the first 2:35 of the first quarter. Finally, Taft broke the scoreless drought when Edtmer Medel sank a three-pointer. Ryan Flick scored the Warriors first basket at the 3:44 mark. Taft countered with a 4-2 run over the remaining minutes of the quarter to lead 7-4.

Tehachapi’s Tommy Wright narrowed the Taft lead to 7-6 by hitting a jumper with 5:04 to go. The Wildcats had the momentum the rest of the half after Taft outscored the Warriors 4-2 to lead 11-7.

The low scoring game continued into the third quarter. Following Wright’s basket to cut Taft’s advantage to two with 6:35 to go, neither team scored again until the 3:51 mark when Flick hit a jumper to even the score at 11. Nearly two minutes passed before Wright hit a jumper to give the Warriors a 13-11 lead.

Medel helped the Wildcat offense finally wake up by hitting a jumper with 56 seconds to go to knot the score at 13. Taft’s Miguel Rodriguez added a free throw with 15 seconds left as the Wildcats took a 14-13 lead into the fourth quarter.

After Jeremy Duff basket gave the Warriors 15-14 lead 25 seconds into the fourth quarter, Taft’s offense roared to life with a 10-0 run thanks in part to Rodriguez’s three-pointer and Eli Kindred’s steal and layup.

Tehachapi threatened to erase the Wildcat lead on Dalton Scaggs three-pointer and Flick’s two free throws. The Warriors had a chance to cut the Taft lead again but basket was waived off due to a traveling call. Medel sank a free throw three seconds later to seal the victory.

Rodriguez led Taft in scoring with 10 while Medel had 6. Junior Tuumalemalo led the Wildcats in rebounds with 5 while Mitchell Emberson, Darryl Melton and Medel each had 4. Medel led Taft in steals with 4 while Tuuamalemalo and Medel each had 2 blocks.

Taft returns to action Friday when they take on Bakersfield Christian in Bakersfield. The game begins at 4 p.m.