Taft hoops ready to make the leap to Division II play

This story originally appeared in the Holiday issue of ESPNHS magazine’s Ohio edition.

If you missed the ESPN 30 for 30 “Guru of Go,” don’t sweat it — Taft will be performing a re-enactment of Loyola Marymount’s run-and-shoot attack all over the country this winter.

“It’s like organized chaos,” says head coach Mark Mitchell. “Every three to eight seconds, there’s going to be a shot that goes up. We play both offense and defense fast.”

That exhilarating style of play had scoreboard operators working overtime and produced the first title (Taft won the D-III crown) in any sport for a school trying to debunk the myth that nothing good happens in that part of Cincinnati.

“The title was significant for us being an inner-city school,” says Martin. “It was a galvanizing moment. It proved good things can come to the inner city.”

With four starters back this winter, there may be even more good news on the horizon for the Taft community.

Running the show is 5-foot-8 senior guard Orlando Berry (15 points, nine assists last year), while classmate Jaelean Lowe, who averaged 12 points a game, is deadly from beyond the arc. Senior Adolphus Washington, an Ohio State football recruit, also brings plenty of talent to the hardwood. He tallied a team-high 18 points in the state final and averaged 18 points and 15 boards a game on the season.

Seniors Dwayne Stanford II, who will play football at Oregon, and Jamaine Freeman are athletic, intelligent players, while senior transfer Jabari Watkins brings lockdown defense to the squad. Things will get tougher for Taft after a move up to D-II play, but Mitchell is confident his team will be up to the challenge.

“You can’t rest on what you’ve done if you want to continue greatness,” he says. “Anyone can win one. Now win two and that puts you in good company."

David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.