The consensus among players and coaches was that the first quarter of last Friday's 79-63 win over Newark featured some of the best basketball the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys team has played this season. The Lions outscored Newark 28-5 on their way to their 13th consecutive win.

The consensus among players and coaches was that the first quarter of last Friday's 79-63 win over Newark featured some of the best basketball the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys team has played this season. The Lions outscored Newark 28-5 on their way to their 13th consecutive win.

That point guard Stevie Taylor was the dominant force in the first quarter (18 points) should come as no surprise. Already an established playmaker in his third year on varsity, Taylor has become one of the area's most dangerous scorers and outside shooters.

"Stevie was good last season," teammate Rob Brandenberg said. "But this year he's taken it to another level. He's able to take over more than he was before."

Taylor is averaging 18.1 points, 2.5 steals and 3.1 assists per game. He has scored 20 points or more in six games this season and made five 3-pointers or more in a game three times.

Perhaps most impressive is that through almost three-quarters of the regular season, the 5-foot-9 Taylor is shooting 62 percent from the field and 49 percent from the 3-point line. The numbers are up dramatically from last season, when his percentages were at 45 and 30.8, respectively.

"The biggest thing that changed from his sophomore year to junior year is his perimeter shot," Gahanna coach Tony Staib said. "He's so skilled at getting to the basket, driving and dishing, that once he improved his outside shot his game really elevated."

A fixture on the AAU circuit since elementary school, Taylor came to Gahanna's program in 2007 as one of the state's top-rated freshmen. His first scrimmage as a ninth grader began with an announcer touting him to fans as "Ohio's No. 1 player in the Class of 2011."

Taylor did not disappoint. He averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 steals during the 2007-08 season. His overall numbers improved during his sophomore year (15.8 points, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals) and Taylor was named third-team all-Central District.

"Stevie's dedicated his life to playing basketball," Staib said. "He's not an overnight sensation."

But something seems to have clicked offensively this year. Despite playing alongside two of the area's top scoring threats in Brandenberg and Anthony Jackson, Taylor still seems to be the team's most versatile weapon.

He has done it at some of the biggest points of the season. Last month Taylor scored 24 points each in back-to-back wins over Cleveland Heights and Huber Heights Wayne, arguably the two best teams Gahanna has faced this season. The performance against Wayne was particularly significant since Taylor was matched up against Travis Trice, another of the state's top point guards.

Taylor credits his improvement to good old-fashioned hard work. Along with practice and spending four nights a week in the gym with his father, Taylor spends Sunday mornings working on his perimeter game with Upper Arlington's Brian Sullivan and Oliver McGlade, two of the area's best outside shooters.

"I attribute it to working out," Taylor said of his improvement. "I'm starting to become more consistent. In the past I might have had three good games and one garbage game. I haven't had that this year.

"My game's been getting better each year. I think people around the state are starting to see it."