Uplift players heard their coach and took his lessons to heart. That was bad news for Lincoln Park.
Upset about the way his undefeated team had been playing of late, Uplift coach David Taylor dressed his players down. The message struck a chord.
The visiting No. 22 Titans delivered a game-opening haymaker against the Lions and used a 19-1 first quarter run to establish a dominant and coach-approved performance in the 81-58 victory over Lincoln Park Wednesday.
Twelve different players scored for the Titans, who led by as many as 32 points in the second half.
"Coach said lately we'd been playing down to the talent, and we wanted to come out and make a statement that this was the way we were capable of playing and that Lincoln Park was not going to be able to hang around," junior forward Jamaya Wyatt said.
Wyatt scored 15 points and added nine rebounds and three blocked shots for the Titans (11-0, 4-0 Red-North). He delivered the dazzling finish when he stripped a ball at halfcourt and drove the floor for a devastating dunk while being fouled.
Jeremy Roscoe scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the first half.
Lincoln Park never had a chance as Uplift used a blitzing 13-0 run in the first quarter. Uplift shut out the Lions (4-5, 1-2) for more than seven minutes from the field, improving its 22-5 first quarter lead to a commanding 41-18 at the break.
With the Titans about to compete at the prestigious Proviso West tournament Saturday, the team was eager to sharpen its attack and improve its halfcourt execution.
"It was just important, with Proviso West starting, to come out here and play a really good game," Wyatt said.
Guard Deshon Fluckes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half in joining Wyatt and Roscoe as double-figure scorers. Roscoe's three-pointer from the top of the key capped a 9-0 Titans' run to start the third quarter, officially turning the game into a rout.
Lincoln Park salvaged some pride in the fourth quarter, playing mostly against Uplift's reserves and nearly matching (27 points) their total through three quarters (31 points).
Guard Bryson Butler scored all 12 of his team-high total in the fourth quarter. Joshua Wilkes contributed 10 points and Sam Mack added nine points for the Lions.
Even so, the clear storyline remained Uplift's best ever start.
"Our chemistry has been there the whole year," Wyatt said. "We play together, we get along, and we go and compete."