Written by Kyle Valdez
McMain High and North Central squared off on the second day of the Hoopfest Tour's FestGiving New Orleans. Derrick Tezeno of North Central led all scorers with 22 points, but a big second quarter from McMain was the difference-maker as they ran away with a 67-50 victory. McMain's Taj Gilyot led the team with a game-high 16 points on three 3-pointers, while Alex Hammond scored 15 points and Nicholas Kaigler added 10.
Despite a slow start for both teams, Tezeno found a rhythm in the first quarter. He knocked down a corner fadeaway and a 3-pointer to propel a 7-0 spurt to give North Central a 15-10 edge after the first quarter.
McMain took a 5-point lead midway through the second quarter, but turnovers gave way for North Central to cut the lead to 21-19 with 3 minutes to go. Numerous loose ball recoveries, offensive rebounds, and steals resulted in an 8-2 run in favor of McMain to close the half. Gilyot was most effective in that time: scoring 10 points on two 3-pointers and getting to the free-throw line. North Central was outscored 19-6 in the quarter.
"We're so big on Taj Gilyot," McMain head coach Steve Kelly said. "It's like, 'you've been playing basketball at McMain High School since the 8th Grade. You've been starting. You don't need to take a back seat to anybody anymore. This is your team and we're going to go as long as you go.'"
A good start to the second half gave North Central hope, but an 8-0 run from McMain was the nail in the coffin. From that point forward, McMain only expanded their lead. Their lead grew to 14 points after the third quarter. The final score was 67-50.
"As a staff, we instill in our kids that every day you come to the gym, you have to be better," Kelly said. "If you're not going to be better, don't come to the gym at all. Don't waste your time. Don't waste our time. The kids are really starting to buy in."
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