The U16s rang in the New Year in fine fashion with a 68 – 38 win over Shropshire Warriors. The victory extends the team's league winning streak to six and puts it in a three-way tie for second place in the conference with a record of eight wins and two losses.
After a bit of a rusty opening start, Tigers established its first lead of the game in the third minute of the first quarter and never looked back. A three-ball from captain Dom Hinchliffe saw the hosts begin a four-minute, 17 – 1 run. By the end of the opening period Taunton had established a comfortable 27 – 10 lead.
Shropshire came out in the second quarter in a zone defence against which Tigers struggled to execute. The visitors had the better of the opening minutes of the period and a 7 – 1 run resulted in Warriors getting as close as 10 points. That would be the last time Shropshire would threaten Tigers on the day as the defence did its work by holding the opponents to nine points in the quarter resulting in a 37 – 19 halftime lead.
Taunton offense began to unlock its opponents' zone in the third quarter while the defence stepped up another notch. Tigers' starters were given the first two minutes of the period and then it was up to the reserves to try to see out the game, and that is what they did. A 17 – 7 third period allowed the hosts to go into the final period of play up 54 – 26.
The teams played a very equal last period, with Taunton only narrowly outscoring the visitors 14 – 12, but it was enough to see out the 30-point win.
Rookie forward Matt Parks was Tigers MVP on the day, not only leading the scoring with a season best 11 points, but also rebounding well at both ends and playing some great defence. Hinchliffe and senior guard Laim Dunn were the only other Tigers to hit double figures with 10 a-piece.
Head Coach Mark Crncich said this after the game,
“I really wasn't sure what kind of performance we were in store for after the long holiday break. As a coach you have to trust that the players will be able to execute most of what they learned in the first half of the season, and that is what we got on the day. Once again we struggled initially against a zone, but we can always count on our defence when our offense fails to fire. We weren't able to come close to a first quarter output of 27 points, but this is the fifth time this season we held a team to below 50 and I am very pleased with that.”
The U16s now travel to Stroud for a big top of the table game. The teams boast the same 8 – 2 record and Taunton will look to avenge its early season loss to Stroud back in October.