Michael Taylor is glad that he transferred back to his home school.
The 6-foot-5 senior post is even happier after scoring the game-winning basket on pass from his long-time friend at the buzzer as the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Buccaneers edged the Tri-City United Titans 40-38 on Thursday night at Waterville.
Taylor was in Waterville for eight years, transferred to Waseca for four years and is now back at WEM for his senior year.
"I wanted to close out my senior year with my closest friends from my childhood," Taylor said. "So far it's going amazing. I couldn't ask for anything more."
The game-winner came on a planned play with one of his closest friends.
"Brady Nutter cut out on the elbow," Taylor said. "I set a screen for him, he rolled and dished it to me absolutely perfectly, and I made a very clean lay-up to win the game by two. We couldn't have played it any better than that. I have really good teammates. That's a post play that we just cooked up a couple of days ago in practice, and we executed it twice in this game."
The Bucs trailed the entire game until Taylor made back-to-back baskets to tie it 35-35 with 4:40 to play. Nutter also made the pass to Taylor for the game-tying layup, and Nutter drove and scored the go-ahead basket to give the Bucs their first lead of the game 37-35.
The Titans cut the lead to 37-36 when senior wing/post Jonathan Hurd made one of two free throws with 2:20 left.
WEM senior guard/forward Gabe Androli answered with a free throw to give the Bucs back a two-point lead, 38-36.
Hurd again stepped up, grabbing an offensive rebound, drawing a foul and making two free throws to tie it at 38 with 12.7 seconds to go.
After a timeout, the Bucs passed the ball in from their end. Androli carried the ball up the court and dished it off to Nutter, who handed it off to the driving Taylor for the game winner.
While TCU second-year head coach Kyle Johnson said he didn't like the finish, he liked how the Titans played in the first half.
"We did some things well the first half that we wanted to do," Johnson said. "Defensively we did a good job, allowing just 17 points. We moved the basketball well at times. We got the ball inside. That's one of the things we wanted to establish was an inside game that we didn't have. We could have done it a little more. We tried to go at it in the second half, but we didn't enough.
"In the second half we did some OK things. Unfortunately we didn't knock down enough shots and make the enough plays at the right time. Give credit to them (WEM) because they stayed after it. They stayed the course. They trailed the entire game, but they kept us at arms' length."
Hurd paced the Titans with 13 points including a 3-pointer. Sophomore post Reggie Voseipka netted 12 points. Senior guard Fakourou scored nine points. Junior guard Nolan Readmond and junior post Henry Schendel had two points each.
Hurd, at 6-foot-2, showed his all-around athleticism with his speed and jumping ability.
"He did some nice things for us," Johnson said. "He can play post and wing. It's nice to put him in different spots to guard us in different ways and take advantage of his athleticism."
Voseipka also had a good game.
"Reggie did a nice job for us," Johnson said.
Fakourou did a nice job defensively, but he got in foul trouble, Johnson said. "We've got to do a good job of getting the ball to him."
Trailing by as much as nine points in the first half (19-10) with 4:10 to play, the Buccaneers cut it to four points (21-17) on a 7-2 run that included a two free throws by Remme, a reverse layup by Taylor, a free throw by Nutter and two free throws by Rezac to close out the scoring in the first half.
TCU dropped to 0-2.
"We've got to learn with each game and get comfortable with each other," Johnson said. "We've got to commit to the game plan and stay with it for 36 minutes. Hopefully we can get into the win column.""
The Titans host Sibley East (0-3) at 7:15 p.m. Friday.