by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
Taft College made a serious second-half run but in the end depth and balance powered West Hills-Lemoore to a 75-52 Central Valley Conference victory Wednesday night.
The Cougars battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit to get within seven points in the second half but the Golden Eagles pulled away with a 20-4 run to finish it off.
"We got it down to seven and went cold," said Cougar head coach Tyrone Taylor. "We scored just four points in the last six minutes of the game."
After trailing 36-22 at the break the Cougars came out pressing, forced turnovers and were able to close the gap to 55-48 with 6:20 left.
"Our press worked," Taylor said. "We got the turnovers we wanted but couldn't score."
Cold shooting was compounded by foul trouble. TC's top scorers – Kennedy Kunce and Emilee Davidson – both had four fouls.
"We had foul trouble, and we got a little gassed at the end," Taylor said, referring to his lack of depth. "We missed opportunities, but it's tough when you have seven and they have 12."
To keep Kunce and Davidson from fouling out he shuttled them in and out with the Hernandez twins – Mia and Mariah – in when TC was on offense and out when on defense. It kept them from fouling out but West Hills took advantage of their absence to get some easy buckets.
The Cougars shot just 28 percent from the floor on 15-of-53 shots. They missed all nine of their three-point shots while West Hills made seven from outside the arc.
Both Cougar centers – Kunce and Davidson – had trouble scoring despite getting some good looks.
Davidson scored TC's first two baskets in the first two and a half minutes but went scoreless the rest of the half. She stormed out of the gate in the second half, scoring the Cougars' first nine points but getting just four the rest of the way.
She led the Cougars with 19 points on 7-of-17 from the floor, sank all five of her free throws and added six rebounds.
Kunce struggled with a 4-for-12 night from the floor and missed all four of her free throws. She pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
Freshman guard Carrie Graham had one of her best outings with 17 points on 4-of-11 from the field and 9-of-16 from the line.
Angie Banks scored 10 points, had six assists, three rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
The loss was Taft's third in a row in the conference. The Cougars are 1-3 in the CVC and 7-11 overall heading into Saturday's game in Fresno against the defending Rams, who are off to an uncharacteristic start – tied with West Hills for third place.
Sequoias 5-0 (20-3)
Reedley 4-1 (12-9)
W. Hills 2-2 (14-6)
Fresno 2-2 (14-8)
Taft 1-3 (7-11)
Merced 1-3 (3-14)
Porterville 0-4 (6-13)