With palpable buzz in the building to open the second day of the Holiday Hardwood Classic, Withrow and Taft faced off in a CMAC battle at the Cintas Center. The CMAC, of course, is known for its fast-paced and high-flying style of basketball, and that was certainly evident in this game.
Taft's size and athleticism were on display early, as their multiple 6'8 players gave Withrow fits in the early going. The Senators held a 19-11 lead after banking in a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter, and ultimately extended that lead to 31-17 at the break behind Eian Elmer's 12 first-half points.
The third quarter was a similar story, albeit a tad more even on the scoreboard, as Taft's lead was extended up to 48-31 and Elmer swatted away a potential Dante Ingram three-pointer as time expired in the third.
Ultimately, there just wasn't enough for Withrow to overcome the early deficit. Johnny Cotton rained in a three-pointer with exactly four minutes left to extend the Taft lead to 21 and a late Withrow run wasn't enough as the Senators ran away with a 63-41 win behind 23 points from Elmer.
"Anytime Taft and Withrow get together, it's a war," Taft head coach Demarco Bradley said. "I love this event. When we go to state, we play on a college court. It was a great event and I'm glad we were invited to play Withrow, who only has a couple losses. We've played some of the best teams in Kentucky, but nobody in Ohio had really seen us play."
With the win, Taft improves to 8-2 on the season and will face first-place Woodward in a titanic CMAC matchup at home on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Withrow is now 5-3 and will head to Dayton to face Dunbar on Jan. 3 as well.