Updated: January 30, 2014 6:43AM
Thornton has had its ups and downs early in the season, but during a 4½-minute run in Friday’s McDipper 41 quarterfinals, the Wildcats showed just how good they can be.
Trailing King 37-36 late in the third quarter, Thornton exploded for a 12-0 run. It was a knockout punch from which the Jaguars could not recover as Thornton went on to a 59-45 win at Rich South.
“It was a big turnaround,” Thornton’s Justin Taylor said. “You could feel the game turning. Our crowd really helped us out and our bench really helped us out.”
Taylor started the run, scoring on a drive. Jamani Pierce followed with five straight points before Taylor closed the third with a basket for a 45-37 lead.
The Wildcats (6-3) scored the first three points of the fourth quarter to complete the surge.
Pierce, who spent most of the second quarter on the bench with two fouls, had 11 third-quarter points.
“We were giving up too many offensive rebounds,” he said. “That team was too small to be getting so many offensive rebounds on us. I wanted to come back in and set the tone. We were able to open up the lead and we just played ball.”
Taylor had 23 points and 15 rebounds and Pierce finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Jessie Young led King (9-4) with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Thornton led throughout the first half, and stretched the advantage to 28-18 late in the second quarter. King scored eight points over the final 37 seconds of the half, with Jabari Antwine (9 points, 8 rebounds) and Deion Statam canning treys, to pull to within two.
“We were just doing some dumb stuff in the first half,” Thornton coach Troy Jackson said. “We were playing half-hearted ‘D’. We were reaching in and getting fouls. I told them we just had go to out and do what we do.”
That meant a whole lot of Taylor and Pierce.
“It’s the Dipper,” Taylor said. “If you don’t show up, you get embarrassed. We’re ready to play.”