By Lannis Timmons
Playing before a packed house, Woodward entered the game leading the conference with a 3-0 record and 7-1 overall, while Taft was 0-1 in League play, and 1-4 overall.
Taft came ready to play, as the team jumped off to a 7-2 score in the first 2 minutes, using a 2-1-2 full court press. Taft’s Chris’seon Stringer…grown man played his first game of the year, after coming off a ACL injury which he suffered last year while playing against Summit Country Day. Stringer led the way for the Senators, as the junior scored 7 points in the first quarter, mostly around the basket. Stringer had help from Donta’e Mosley who scored 6 points in the opening quarter as the Senators moved out ahead 11-2, as Woodward had a hard time finding the range and found themselves down 18-5 as the first quarter came to close.
As the second quarter began, the Bulldogs started getting back into it as seniors Terry Durham, and Demontez Cooper tried to cut into the lead, combining for 14 points going into halftime and down 33-18 The Bulldogs were 5-25 from the field…0-10 from the 3-point line, and 8-15 from the free throw line in the first half. But Taft was 14-29 from the field, while only making 1 basket from long distance, and 4-7 from the charity stripe.
As the second half got started, Woodward came out with a little more energy than Taft, as the Bulldogs won the quarter 14-9 behind Durham and Heshimu North. Woodward had a hard time getting the lead under 10 points, as Taft had guys scoring quiet baskets to retain their double figure lead. Also in the quarter, Taft did a good job of changing defenses.half court traps, zone, run and jump three-quarter-court, which kept Woodward off balance. Woodward made some adjustments during timeouts and ended up getting some high percentage shots.
Both teams picked up the energy level in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs were able to get the lead below 10 points, as Terry Durham got a steal and went in for a monster dunk. Woodward started to get some momentum with Dionte McBride, North, and Durham each scoring baskets to get the lead under10 points. Then Dre Lewis got a mid-range jump shot to go down, to make the score 55-48. Then one of the Bulldogs got a technical foul, which hurt their chances of getting any closer.
Both teams played hard, but if Woodward could have shot the ball better, this would have been a closer game. They were 16-54 from the field, 2-25 from the 3-point line, and 15-28 from the free throw line.
Woodward will try to get back on the winning track when they entertain Dayton Dunbar Tuesday, as Taft will host Shroder. Taft and Woodward will play again January 26 at Taft.