PITTSFIELD -- The plan was simple: Get the ball inside to Mike Taylor early and often.
With the game on the line, the Taconic boys basketball team did just that. Trailing city rival St. Joseph by a point with 10 seconds left Friday, Taylor made a turnaround lay-up over a host of Crusaders to give the Braves a 69-68 win.
"We were trying to drop down on [Taylor]. The person guarding the entry pass was suppose to sag off and double-team him, but he's too big and too strong," St. Joe coach Randy Kinnas said.
"[Taylor] is always our first option," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "Down the stretch we gutted it out, and our whole plan was to get the ball inside."
Taylor, playing in his first game since sitting out three straight with an ankle injury, shouldered the load for Taconic. He finished with 24 points, and collected several offensive rebounds leading to second-chance points for the Braves.
A layup by Devon Johnston gave St. Joe a five-point lead with three minutes left in the game. The Crusaders would not score again, however, as two free throws from Charles Davis cut the St. Joe lead to one and set up Taylor's game-winning shot.
For St. Joe, the outside shooting of Pat Latini kept it in the game. The undersized forward hit three 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 25 poitns. Justin Crawford added two more threes to finish with 14 points.
"[Latini] is the ultimate warrior," Kinnas said. "The kid has more heart than I've ever seen in a high school basketball player. He's getting better every day and he's going to a force to be reckoned with."
Despite Latini's efforts, Taylor, along with Drew Scace and Treyvon Ringgold, dominated down low against the undersized Crusaders. Ringgold finished with 10 points, all coming in the first half. Scace added 13.
The game featured eight ties and 12 lead changes.
After beating St. Joe handily earlier in the season, Heaphy said his team came out sluggish.
"This game was a lot closer than we anticipated," the Braves coach said. "I think some of the guys were thinking of the game two weeks ago at the Boys and Girls Club, but you live and learn."
Heaphy added that St. Joe played tough until the end.
"St. Joe played a great game. They outplayed us and they deserved to win," he said.
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