LOS ANGELES -- It was a look. Brandon Taylor shot a confident glance in the direction of his bench and the senior point guard for Los Angeles Pacific Hills took over down the stretch.
Seemingly unstoppable throughout, Taylor was at his absolute best in the waning moments of Tuesday night's showdown against Los Angeles Windard and finished with 34 points to guide the visiting Bruins to a 68-56 victory in a game with first place at stake in the Alpha League standings.
“Brandon was confident, you could tell in his overall demeanor,'' Pacific Hills coach Ivan Barahona said. “When he told me not to worry and that he's got things under control, I calmed down a little bit. He was right. You have to be impressed when a kid delivers like he did tonight.''
Taylor scored eight points over the course of the final eight minutes to secure the all-important victory for the Bruins (20-3, 4-0), No. 13 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings.
The Wildcats (13-7, 2-1), No. 7 in the recent poll, never found an answer for him.
“I came into this game feeling good, I wasn't about to overreact, or buckle under the pressure late in the game,'' Taylor said. “My goal was to play with intensity, but stay poised. I wasn't worried about how many points I scored. The only things that matters in the end is winning games.''
Taylor started the second half similar to the way he finished the first. Scoring appeared to come with relative ease against a defense geared toward limiting his effectiveness. He had nine points in the third quarter to help the Bruins build what proved to be an insurmountable 54-37 lead.
Windward's Nick Stover did his best to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. The senior wing and Loyola Marymount commit finished with 17 points. His efforts, however, came up a tad short as the Wildcats couldn't manage to overcome a double-digits deficit in the waning moments.
“We felt like this game was for a league championship,'' Windward coach Miguel Villegas said. “It was the two best teams going at each other. We felt like we were ready for a big game."
Pacific Hills jumped out to an early lead behind the play of Taylor, of course. He scored 17 points in the first half. Teammate Marcus Jackson helped out along the way and scored 15 of his 20 points before intermission. The Bruins, as a result, were able to take a 36-31 advantage at the break.
Taylor's confidence and ability to deliver when it matters most figures to attract the attention of college recruiters. He has been in contact with Division II schools mostly, but some Division I programs have recently expressed interest, most notably Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Utah.
“This is what you get from Brandon, he's a finisher, games like this show everyone out there what he's capable of doing,'' Barahona said. “I'm always going to worry in big games. But with him around, it makes things a little easier. When he gave me that look, I had a feeling we'd be fine.''
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter