CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Fifteen points, fifteen rebounds, five well-timed blocks, no matter. The countenance doesn't lie.
And Jacquil Taylor was visibly thwarted as he left the locker room following his No. 5 Cambridge Falcons' all-too-easy 60-44 win over their Greater Boston League nemesis, No. 21 Everett. It was a sloppy night, but one that started on a very high note for his teammates (a game-opening 12-4 run yielded a 32-18 halftime lead) and a very low one for him. The 6-foot-8 sophomore finished strong, and as usual made some highlight-reel dunks to spark the Falcons (7-0), but started the night off 0 for 6.
Not a totally disappointing night -- "We got the win, but we need to make some corrections," he shrugged -- but frustrating?
"Yeah, and it was very bad in my case," Taylor said. "I'd rather start the game off making all six shots instead of missing them. Going 0 for 6, to me that's bad."
Meanwhile, across the hallway, Cambridge head coach Lance Dottin was taking deep breaths and shaking his head about some other perceived deficiencies in the win. Namely, the Crimson Tide (5-1) threw 2-3 zone looks at the Falcons for extended periods of time, especially in the second half, doubling down on Taylor in the post with its long, lean tandem of senior Erno Deshommes and junior Alain Jeanty (13 points, 14 rebounds).
That left junior Maurice Taylor and seniors Kyroe Qualls-Betts and Andre Dottin with a slew of open looks on the perimeter, ones they did not convert into buckets. Overall, the Falcons shot 38 percent from the field, and were 2 of 24 from three-point range.
"There were alot of open shots, and you've got to knock them down when you're open," Dottin said. "I thought we did a poor job of moving the basketball, getting stuck on one side of the floor, but that's what happens when you're settling for shots -- you know, that first pass. We've gotta get out of that first pass syndrome, and we've got to get that ball moving and attacking the zone a whole lot better.
"We'll do that, we'll keep practicing, so we're gonna just get back to work. We're happy with the win, GBL, so we'll just make sure that we've got to work on those things."
But a win -- and a double-digit one over an ESPNBoston MIAA Top 25 team at that -- is a win. And the Falcons proved once again to be special when given the opportunity to push the tempo. Deondre Starling (15 points, 11 rebounds) capped a game-opening 12-4 run for Cambridge with a steal at the right wing and driving layup, after which Everett head coach Bippy Manuel first called for the zone.
The Falcons opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to push out to a 22-7 lead, highlighted by the first of several explosive dunks by Jacquil Taylor. Jacquil took a long outlet pass from his brother down the left flank, gathered and slammed the ball home with two hands. They followed up on the next possession with Marcus Faison (11 points) converting a three-point play for a 15-point lead with five minutes left in the first half.
Minutes later, with Cambridge holding a 26-10 lead, Jeanty racked up his second foul, and that gave way to another Jacquil Taylor dunk with just over a minute to go in the first half. This time, it was a two-handed tip-slam off an errant three-pointer from Tyrone Dacosta to make it 30-18.
"It's like an energy boost," Starling said of Jacquil Taylor's dunks. "It gives everyone momentum. Everyone gets hyped up, the crowd goes wild, we get hyper, it gets us back to reality, knowing where we're at right now."
Starling, meanwhile, might have been the star of the night. In addition to the presence his lanky 6-foot-4 frame made around the rim at both ends, he was tasked with manning up the Tide's best playmaking guard, Manny Asprilla (13 points). The senior, who is committed to Boston College for football, made some terrific drives through the lane and connected well with his post players, but in spurts. Meanwhile Matt Costello, making his season debut after battling an ankle injury the first month, was held without a point in seven attempts from the field.
"He's always big. I mean, Deondre's big, he's a fabulous player," Dottin said. "He can do so many different things. He can rebound on both ends of the floor, he's great off the offensive glass, but he's even better on the defensive glass. And then, Deondre can pretty much cover anyone we ask him to cover. And tonight we really needed him to pressure the ball, and get on Manny, and that's what he did. That's what Deondre does, he's kind of Mr. Everything."