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Boys Basketball: Justin Taylor, Jamani Pierce push Thornton past Hillcrest

Thorton's Leslie Wilsmakes move upcourt against Hillcrest ThorntBasketball Shootout Sunday December 15th 2013 Harvey. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

Thorton's Leslie Wilson makes a move upcourt against Hillcrest at the Thornton Basketball Shootout, Sunday, December 15th, 2013, in Harvey. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 15, 2013 10:47PM



Coming into Sunday with a 2-3 record, Thornton coach Troy Jackson knew the Wildcats were underachieving.

“We lost to some teams we shouldn’t have lost to,” he said. “I think we lost some confidence. We’ve been coming out for games sluggish. We’ve been chasing 10 points early on every time out.”

Sunday was different.

“It seems like we got a dose of penicillin or something and we were back to our normal selves,” Jackson said.

Behind the dominant duo of Justin Taylor and Jamani Pierce, who combined for 43 points and 17 rebounds, the Wildcats topped Hillcrest 79-67 in the final game of the Thornton Shootout in Harvey.

“This is how Thornton’s supposed to play,” Taylor said. “We wanted to come out and go to school tomorrow (with a .500 record). We didn’t want to lose on our home court.”

Pierce had 22 points and eight rebounds and Taylor finished with 21 points and nine rebounds for Thornton (3-3).

Allen Jones (16 points) and Taylor Adway (14 points, nine rebounds) led Hillcrest (4-4).

Taylor started the game on fire, scoring 10 points in the first four minutes as Thornton jumped to a 12-5 lead.

The Wildcats scored the final six points of the first quarter for a 22-11 lead.

“(Jackson) told us the difference in this game was going to be starting fast and being ready from the start,” Taylor said.

It wasn’t all easy for the hosts, though. Hillcrest, trailing 26-11 early in the second, fought back to within 34-29 at the half as Jones hit three first-half treys and kept the Hawks afloat with 12 first-half points.

The Hawks drew even at 36-36 on DeAngelo Isby’s three-pointer two minutes into the third, but Thornton responded with a 7-0 run, Pierce scoring the final five, to retake control.

Taylor delivered the exclamation point with a thunderous alley-oop dunk off a Da’Marques Turner pass, extending the lead to 60-45 with 5:12 left in the game.

“We proved to ourselves that we could play like this,” Pierce said.

Leslie Wilson added 13 points and D’Quan Applewhite chipped in eight points for Thornton.

George McDaniel had 13 points and Almari Daniels 11 for Hillcrest.

Isby, the Hawks’ leading scorer, was slowed by foul trouble and finished with five points.



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