Remembrance Sunday saw the U16s face Premier side Plymouth Marjon in the second round of the Cup. Marjon had been performing well in the Premier South this season, with four wins and four losses and were coming off a 50-point victory in the league the day before. The team also boasted six players who were part of last year's team that had easily handled Tigers home and away.
All signs pointed to a tough day for Taunton, but it turned out to be Plymouth that struggled to see off and energized and feisty Tigers side.
The hosts seemed to shock the visitors by flying out of the gates, jumping out to an 8 – 3 lead in the first five minutes of the opening quarter, forcing Plymouth to burn an early timeout. Marjon came out of the break with a greater sense of urgency, but the Tigers defense continued to deny Plymouth's inside attack and forced them into making shots from the outside. When the buzzer sounded the end of the opening period, the scoreboard showed Tigers up 20 – 14 and Marjon went to their bench knowing they were in for a fight.
Taunton maintained a 23 – 19 lead after four minutes of the second quarter before the wheels fell off. The visitors switched to a 2-3 zone defence that stymied Taunton's attack, while the Plymouth offence took flight. The opposition went on an 18 – 3 run to end the half. Tiger's six-point output in the quarter was reminiscent of its second period horror show two weeks earlier at home to Arden Griffins. The halftime score saw Marjon up 37 – 26.
Still, Coach Crncich held the belief that his charges held more in store for the visitors.
“They had a very short halftime talk and had the look of a team that thought the game was over. We were all very positive during the half and I told the boys how proud I was of how they battled against a more talented team. When I looked at the body language of their guys at the half, I thought to myself: ‘No way fellas, we are going to come back at you.’”
The visitors opened the second half with a mid-range jumper before Tigers got two layups off of their fast-break. Plymouth followed with two long-range threes and an inside bucket from their big man. Then, Taunton went on a forceful 7 – 2 run to close the lead to nine. The game again turned on its head as Marjon responded with a 10 – 1 run to go into the final period up 18, 58 – 40.
No one would have been surprised if Plymouth would have easily run out the final quarter, but that was not to be. With the ferocity of a team unwilling to accept defeat, Tigers overwhelmed the visitors in the first four minutes of the period by going on a 12 – 1 run and cutting the lead to seven. A big three from Marjon stalled the hosts run, but with two minutes to go the difference remained a slim nine points.
A couple of untimely turnovers off the dribble by Taunton forced them to foul to stop the clock and hope the visitors would not hit their free-throws. Unfortunately, Tigers were too aggressive in their attempts to foul and were called for three unsportsmanlike calls, which meant two free-throws for Marjon and more importantly possession. Plymouth hit five for seven from the line and won the battle 73 – 58.
Unlike the day previous, the head coach was very pleased despite the loss.
“The end result shows we lost by 15 and were knocked out of the Cup, but that's not the story of the day. We got out and jumped all over a team that plays in the Premier League. Then we went down by double figures several times in the game before never saying die and battling back. We pushed them all the way and the desire, effort and execution that we displayed not only makes me proud of the boys, but gave a display of the kind of basketball we are capable of. Added to that was the fact that we had five rookies who all saw action and performed well, while Plymouth largely depended on their five starters to play all but a few minutes.”