At 5-6, Michael Taylor is the waterbug on the floor. He scoots and flows around the court and is the biggest reason Vocational is undefeated two weeks into the season.
Taylor scored a game-high 18 points and contributed five assists and three steals as host Vocational broke open a tied game at halftime to run past Von Steuben 50-36 in the Southside/Northside Challenge Saturday.
Taylor’s impact was measured in many ways. His early shooting proved the only legitimate scoring threat as Vocational struggled on the perimeter to start the game. Taylor scored seven points in the first half.
His outside shooting forced Von Steuben to extend its zone and helped Vocational (5-0) break out of its first-half lethargy.
“We were too passive in the first half, and I knew to start the second half, we had to change the tempo of the game,” Vocational coach Chris Pickens said.
“They played that zone, and we allowed them to dictate pace and they were able to slow the game down. Mike did a great job using his quickness to get into the seams of their zone and find open people on the inside once they committed to stopping his penetration.”
Taylor drilled three three-pointers for the Cavaliers. His three-pointer broke the game’s final tie at 21 early in the third quarter. His three-pointer to close the quarter put Vocational up 32-27 to start the fourth quarter.
“Coach said I had to be more aggressive and look not only for my shot but for others, and we had to try and speed the game up and that’s what we were able to do,” Taylor said. “Once they started coming out on me I had the chance to get around and make plays to our big guys.”
Taylor converted a three-point play in transition that gave the Cavaliers their first 10-point advantage at 37-27. He finished the quarter in grand style, twice darting through the Panthers’ zone and finding junior forward Keeshawn Palmer and sophomore guard Sidney Mason underneath for uncontested layups.
Palmer and Mason scored nine points apiece for the Cavaliers.
Despite the final result, the winless Panthers (0-5) showed continued improvement. Veteran coach Vince Carter has a talented though inexperienced nucleus and he is trying to find the right combinations.
Senior guard Paris Garrett scored 11 of his team-best 16 points in the first half and junior forward Devon Grant scored all nine of his points in the second half for the Panthers.