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Boys Basketball: Thornton sinks Joliet West

Updated: February 16, 2014 6:32AM



Justin Taylor’s shooting stroke never was in question.

Heading into his senior season, though, the Thornton swingman wanted to show off his all-around game.

The results have been obvious, but it all starts with one thing.

“It’s being more aggressive,” Taylor said. “I took shots I wasn’t supposed to last year, forced a couple of shots. Most defenders, they play me as a shooter and play me up close so I just blow past them.”

The shooting was there Tuesday night at Joliet West: the midrange game, the rebounding. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t hurt to throw down a couple of old-fashioned, nasty dunks.

Taylor’s two-handed slams on back-to-back plays in the second quarter helped spark the Wildcats to a 79-66 win at Joliet West in a SouthWest Suburban crossover.

With the Wildcats already rolling offensively to start the second, Taylor went to work. Dribbling down the lane, Justin Montgomery found Taylor on a baseline backdoor cut. Taylor didn’t miss his opportunity with his first two-handed slam.

After a Joliet West turnover, it was more of the same for Thornton, Montgomery again finding the trailing Taylor for another slam dunk.

“If nobody’s around me, I want to dunk it,” Taylor said with a smile. “It helped the team out a lot and really helped the momentum. It can be a game changer.”

Taylor’s two dunks capped an 11-0 run over the first and second quarters that put Thornton up 26-15 with 5:04 left before halftime. The Wildcats didn’t take their foot off the gas, outscoring West 25-12 in the second quarter to take a commanding 42-27 halftime lead. Thornton took its biggest lead at 68-38 in the third.

“Defense was the key that second quarter,” Taylor said. “We defended and scored on the other end.”

Taylor finished with 20 points and eight rebounds for Thornton (9-4), with Jamani Pierce (18 points, 9 rebounds), Da’Marques Turner (13 points) and D’Andre Fuller (10 points) also contributing.

Elliot Fizer (13 points), Tom Carney (11 points), Allias Robert-Burnett (10 points) and Jeff Washington (6 points, 10 rebounds) led Joliet West (5-9).

“Offensively, we stopped pushing the basketball,” West coach Nick DiForti said. “Thornton kept the pedal to the floor and got their lead. You can’t go up and down on a roller caster with a team like Thornton.”



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