Taylor paces young JFK team this past season

Special to Tribune Chronicle John F. Kennedy’s Byron Taylor goes to the hoop around Brady White from South Range during the Al Beach All-Star Classic at Canfield High School on Tuesday.

CANFIELD — John F. Kennedy guard Byron Taylor was part of the senior talent on display at the 48th annual Al Beach Classic at Canfield High School.

The Trumbull County team beat Mahoning County, 136-134, as each team earned one point for every defensive stop they made. Canfield’s Ian McGraw was game MVP with 20 points including six 3-pointers.

As for JFK, the Eagles finished with 14 wins, which included victories over Champion, Ursuline and St. Thomas Aquinas. They lost to Villa Angela-St. Joseph twice and Cleveland Central Catholic.

“We were young,” Taylor said. “We were really young with a lot of freshmen. We worked hard every day at practice with coach K (JFK coach Mark Komlanc). It was just all work and we came together as one team and put in hard work. We were moving the ball all year. Every time you open, let it fly. I pass and they passed. I made high percentage shots and my guys did too.”

When the season began, JFK lacked an identity.

“From our standards, we probably underachieved because we didn’t get a district title and we didn’t get a chance to go as far as we wanted,” Komlanc said. “I think as a team and a family, we know how good we were. We just ran into the best team in the state. I tried to reiterate to these guys of how good and competitive we are. They are the best team in Division IV this year.”

Komlanc is referring to the game they played against Cornerstone Christian in which the Eagles lost, 72-56, in the Division IV Orwell District semifinals.

“We all knew our roles,” Taylor said. “Gianni (Eaton) knew to catch and shoot. He got the ultimate green light. Tyler (James) need to protect the hoop and get every rebound. BJ (Williams) is a smart point guard and passer. Everybody knew their roles and we brought that together.”

Taylor also said everyone knowing their roles allowed him to play freely off the ball to be able to score so well every game.

“In every good group you will have guys that lead the team in different ways,” Komlanc said. “They all know and respected each other. They were able to get through those moments of ripping each other and trying to get better. They all stepped up and took leadership roles. That’s a testament to the amount of work they put in. Our younger guys saw that and it became infectious. In five years, they are going to look back and realize how vital they were to our success.”