Jordan Taylor dominated in the opening round of the state tournament: the senior captain scored 43 points, ensuring a BSM victory over St. Paul Como Park 76-62.
Taylor started the game off hot, hitting two consecutive threes in the opening minutes as the Red Knights jumped out to an 8-0 lead. But the Cougars hung tough and tied the game with 11 seconds left in the first half, riding a 13-2 run.
With time for one more possession and Taylor out because of foul trouble, the Red Knights turned to fellow senior captain Matt Thomas to do what he’s consistently done throughout the season: shift the momentum with a timely three-pointer. Thomas did just that, hitting a fade-away shot as time expired, giving BSM a 29-26 lead at the break. St. Paul Como Park would never get any closer.
The Cougars did stick around in the second half, even when BSM was firing on all cylinders. Point guard Steven Baker and center Lewis Johnson both caught fire for Park, keeping their team within striking distance. BSM built a 13 point lead with eight minutes to go, but the Cougars wouldn’t go away. Led by Baker and Johnson, Park came back with a 9-2 run to cut the lead to just six with four minutes left.
From there, BSM took over with stellar free throw shooting. The Red Knights went a perfect 12-12 from the line in those last four minutes, stopping the Cougars in their tracks and putting the game out of reach. Taylor can take most of the credit, making 10 consecutive foul shots, while senior Armond Battle added the final two and finished with 21 points for the game.
Going into the game, Taylor needed 20 points to become the first Red Knight basketball player in history to reach 2000 points. Taylor also recently was awarded the “Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year” title and was named one of five finalists for Minnesota’s prestigious “Mr. Basketball” award.
John Helms, sports editor