BY JOHN CONLEY
Wyoming East's big man played big in a win over Shady Spring.
Taylor Smith's 23-point performance fueled the AA No. 4 Warriors to an 80-64 victory at New Richmond on Tuesday night.
"Taylor was an animal out there, grabbing boards and getting tip ins," said WEHS coach Rory Chapman. "There aren't many AAs who have a 6-6 guy who can do the things he does."
"Coach and my dad have been on to me to be more aggressive," stated Smith. "They said if I was more aggressive, I'd get a lot more points and rebounds."
The fast paced first quarter saw the Warriors take the lead for good, 12-6, on a 10-0 run which included two put backs from Smith.
It was 19-13 when East used a 16-5 burst to open up a 35-18 margin.
Josh Tunstalle hit a three at the first quarter buzzer and had eight points in the run.
The Tigers got back in the game with 12 unanswered points. Junior sharp shooter Chase Conner, who had 19 first half points, helped boost his team back to within five on several occasions.
"Chase Conner is a special player," said Chapman. "We had a hand in his face most of the time."
Travis McKinney's trey just before the half gave East a 48-40 edge.
"I wasn't happy that we gave up 40 in the first half," Chapman observed. "But my starters came back in the second half and only allowed 20 points."
Smith scored seven as the Warriors started the third period with a 12-4 run and opened up a 60-44 lead.
"My teammates are unselfish," he remarked. "If you're scoring, they'll give you the ball."
Christian Hedinger's baseline drive as the horn sounded gave WEHS a 66-52 advantage.
Shady narrowed the gap to eight, 68-60, in the fourth quarter. But the Warriors held the Tigers scoreless for four minutes to pull away.
"I thought we were good at times and sloppy at times," Chapman commented.
Smith, Tunstalle (17) and Marcus Schofield (11), who was in foul trouble much of the night, paced East (8-3) in scoring. Austin Canada and Luke Campbell added eight each.
Conner, who reached his 1,000th career point in the second quarter, tossed in 35 for the Tigers. Ryan Lucas had 12.