It is not a secret that when Princeton’s Jaheim Taylor and Tyrese Whitley are playing well, the Bulldogs are tough to beat.
Whitley poured in a game-high 30 points, and Taylor scored 24 points to lead Princeton to an 86-57 win over Voyager Academy in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs on Tuesday evening.
During the game, Taylor surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career.
“The amazing thing is Jahiem has done it in basically two seasons. He played his full sophomore season, broke his arm midway last year, and this year he’s fighting through the COVID season. He’s a scoring machine, and when he’s rolling, there are very few people that can stay with him,” Princeton head coach David Cobb said. “The big thing in this game was Tyrese. Tyrese came out early and just was on fire.
“We had a nice game from everybody.”
The Bulldogs won convincingly, but Cobb said the Bulldogs (16-0 overall) would need to clean up some things for their second-round game against Wilson Preparatory Academy on Thursday.
“The intensity was good, but I told them ‘we missed more layups in this game than we did the entire season,” Cobb said. “I tell them ‘get me the points because there are no style points in basketball’ stuff like that is going to catch up to us the further we go.
“We are in a brutal bracket, so we can’t afford to make mistakes like that, but the intensity was very good.”
The Bulldogs set the tone early by hitting three three-pointers in the first quarter.
Taylor knocked one three-pointer, while Whitely drained two three-pointers, and Princeton led 22-16 at the end of the first quarter.
Dwayne Anderson had a team-high 21 points for Voyager Academy. The Vikings attempted to put together a few runs but ultimately could not dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in during the first quarter.
“Early on, our offense was clicking pretty good,” Cobb said.
The Vikings struggled throughout the game to keep up with the speed of Princeton’s guards.
Late in the second quarter, Whitley hit his third three-pointer of the game, and Princeton built up a 45-26 lead at halftime.
During the second half, Princeton led by as many as 31 points, the Vikings cut Princeton’s lead down to 24 points, but the Bulldogs were never in danger of losing the game, which enabled Cobb to play his bench during the fourth quarter.
“When the boys get a lead, it’s almost like sharks seeing blood in the water, and they start extending out that defense and gambling on steals, and it leaves your gaps open,” Cobb said. “Voyager’s number five (Anderson) and number two (Deondre Ross) are excellent athletes, and most of Voyager’s points came from penetration.”
The Bulldogs also got production from Hunter Bailey, who finished with 10 points. Ethan Potts scored six points, and Jacob McCain contributed five points.