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Northwest tops West in Taylor’s return

Published Dec. 10 at 11:14 p.m. | Last updated Dec. 10 at 11:15 p.m.

For the first time in 21 months, Carl Taylor was back on a high school sideline Tuesday, stoically overseeing a basketball team and lending occasional instruction to players in full voice.

At times, the West Pioneers – Taylor’s new team – wreaked havoc with their full-court pressure, nudging host Northwest away from its comfort zone.

But Taylor’s return from retirement also included some off-court lessons, as five varsity players missed the Pioneers’ opener for not meeting their new coach’s academic standards. The difference in depth was a factor, as Northwest got 26 points from reserves in a 62-49 victory over West.

One of the backups, junior Cortlin Standifer, led three Grizzlies in double figures with 14 points as Northwest improved to 2-0.

“Our second team felt like we had to step it up tonight, so we just went out there and played hard,” Standifer said. “We have a lot of depth and that’s what we were trying to use.”

Standifer, a 5-foot-8 guard, played a pivotal role in helping the Grizzlies gain the upper hand. He scored nine points in the second quarter as Northwest turned a 23-19 lead into a 38-23 advantage.

The Grizzlies shot 58 percent from the field in the first half. Standifer was 5 for 6 before the break with two 3-pointers. Center Cortez Carr scored all 10 of his points in the first half as Northwest led went to the locker room with a 40-28 lead.

“We seem to have good spurts where we play really amazing,” said Carr, who opened Northwest’s 25-point second quarter with a dunk off a feed from Kaleb Cobb. “Cortlin gave us a lot of effort tonight. When he starts running up the floor, not a lot of people in the City League can stay with him.”

West (0-1), which got 12 points from Jailyn White and 10 from Jeremiah Johnson, forced 14 Northwest turnovers in the second half. But the Pioneers were equally generous, committing 15 of their 21 turnovers after the break.

As a result, West couldn’t get any closer than 40-33 after Johnson and White opened the third quarter with baskets.

“We got some turnovers, but we committed 20 ourselves and just didn’t execute,” Taylor said. “The kids hustled and played hard. We just didn’t have enough firepower.”

Northwest made just 15 of 29 free throws, but it was enough to be an advantage. West didn’t attempt a free throw until White missed two with 3:39 remaining. The Pioneers finished 6 of 8 from the line.

Cobb also reached double figures for Northwest with 11 points and made all four of his field-goal attempts. Ten Grizzlies scored, while West got just seven points from its reserves.

For Taylor, who led Southeast to 315 victories and three Class 6A championships in 20 seasons, the debut with West left plenty to correct. He embraced that opportunity as he looked forward to the Pioneers’ home opener on Friday against Heights.

“I enjoy coaching,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a hard task. The kids have to learn me and my philosophy.

“They’re learning to take me at my word that I mean business, plain and simple.”

West121691249
Northwest152571562

West – White 5 2-4 12, Money 2 2-2 6, Johnson 3 2-2 10, Farris 4 0-0 8, Leeks 3 0-0 6, Capps 0 0-0 0, Cobal 2 0-0 4, Swinney 1 0-0 3, Presley 0 0-0 0.

Northwest – Nicholson 1 3-4 5, Williams 2 2-2 6, Cobb 4 2-7 11, Carr 4 2-4 10, Johnston 1 2-2 4, Standifer 6 0-0 14, Meyer 2 1-2 5, Caldwell 1 0-2 2, Johnson 0 1-4 1, Miller 1 2-2 4, Alarcon 0 0-0 0, Keith 0 0-0 0, Short 0 0-0 0.