Every season has a breakout star. Isn’t it a relief to find out that is still true? Even in this tiny little sliver of a season.
The guy in 2021 is Richards senior Anthony Taylor. The 6-7 Moraine Valley recruit is averaging 25.5 points and has grabbed double-digit rebounds in most games as well. He’s led the No. 25 Bulldogs to a 7-1 start this season.
“He’s been filling up the score sheet,” Richards coach Chris Passafiume said. “He had his first tough one against Lemont because they were keying on him a lot and he didn’t have some of his regular teammates.”
Lemont handed the Bulldogs their first loss of the season and held Taylor to 13 points.
“I’ve never been the guy before,” Taylor said. “We’ve always had other good players. It definitely shocked me for a little bit, but I’ll get used to it.”
Taylor was back on track Wednesday in Tinley Park. He scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Richards to a 67-62 win against the Titans.
“Taylor made a couple of nice plays late,” Passafiume said. “We kind of lean on him for a lot.”
Taylor scored 10 in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs trailed by two after three quarters but opened the final frame with a 10-0 burst and never looked back.
“It was a game of runs and they made the late run and we didn’t respond,” Tinley Park coach DJ Brown said. “We played well all game long except for that stretch of four minutes in the fourth where we didn’t put it together.”
Passafiume admits that he has been a bit surprised at the lofty numbers Taylor is posting this season.
“He’s a fantastic kid and easy to coach,” Passafiume said. “He deferred a lot last year. He is just asserting himself more. He has more confidence and he knows he’s the man. He’s probably having a little more fun out there.”
Richards junior Daniel Brown, who scored 11 in the win, says that Taylor was always destined to be a star. Taylor credits his offseason work.
“I was in the gym night and day trying to go out with a bang,” Taylor said. “I put a lot of work in. I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can with no playoffs.
Senior Maurice Evans led Tinley Park (4-5) with 24 points and Jordan Luckett added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“[Evans] kind of had a limited role last year but he’s really stepped up and emerged as one of our leaders this year,” Brown said.
Richards, which climbed into the rankings before the loss to Lemont on Monday, was without several regulars. Passafiume said four players are ineligible and starting point guard Stevon Lige was injured against Lemont.
“[Jones] played a good game defensively for us and Tarell Hicks played a lot of good defense too,” Taylor said. “So everybody’s got to step up and take us another level.”
Watch the final minute of Richards at Tinley Park: