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Taft High School boys basketball team motivated by state tournament result

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Posted at 11:22 AM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 12:11:39-04

GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Taft junior wing Rayvon Griffith hasn't forgotten the sting of the Senators' narrow loss in the Division III state basketball semifinal this past March.

Worthington Christian defeated the Senators 47-45 on a game-winning shot at the buzzer March 19 at University of Dayton Arena.

More than three months later, Griffith — one of the nation's top boys basketball players in the 2023 class — is motivated by what Taft coach Demarco Bradley coach said is unfinished business in the state tournament.

"I'm still not over it because I was on the court," Griffith told WCPO this past weekend. "I'm going to take that until we get back there and I'm going to remember it."

"Every game I play and every play I want to take off I just think about that and it just keeps me going."

Taft wants to build the chemistry around the team this summer in order to hopefully return to Dayton next winter.

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Griffith and senior guard Mekhi Elmore spoke at length about the Senators (16-5 in 2020-21) after their fourth game in the Oak Hills High School Shootout past weekend. The Senators return several other key players along with talented new players, too.

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Taft senior guard Mekhi Elmore says the Senators are building chemistry this summer in the hopes for another deep postseason tournament run next winter.

"These guys are real hungry," Bradley said. "You just got to keep playing, keep playing. And that's our motto - let's just get better each and every day."

Elmore had some significant games early last season and averaged 22 points through eight games, but he wasn't eligible for the postseason due to the Ohio High School Athletic Association transfer bylaw.

Elmore, who is listed at 6-foot-3, said he has improved his vertical and his ability to get to the rim.

He said the leadership aspect has been important, too, along with Griffith. The two players have worked to help the Senators acclimate the new players in building a foundation for the season.

"This summer our focus is to get better and come together as a team and grow that chemistry," Elmore said. "And we're trying to get back to UD, because it was bad last year – we lost on a buzzer-beater and it hurt us."

Griffith, a first-team all-state selection, averaged 23.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.3 steals this past season and has received several significant scholarship offers.

"I think my game has improved tremendously," Griffith said. "I got better dribbling. I feel like a year ago I was kind of like suspect on dribbling. I'm right-handed so I can go left now. My jump shot improved a lot. Even I'm surprised – I'm making more threes, making more pull-up jumpers. A year ago a lot of people were calling me a dunker or a post player or something like that. I'm showing them I can be a true guard."

While several players participate in camps or Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) events in summer, this past weekend at Oak Hills was an opportunity for several Greater Cincinnati teams to build chemistry for the upcoming high school season.

"This is a great event; it doesn't get any better than this," Bradley said.

Taft showed this past weekend why it will be a highly-regarded team again later this year.

"If we can stay healthy, I think we are going to be tough to beat," Bradley said.