The growth of Tarren Taylor of the Wellington School boys basketball team the past two seasons can be measured by more than just a growth chart.

The growth of Tarren Taylor of the Wellington School boys basketball team the past two seasons can be measured by more than just a growth chart.

Taylor, a 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward who has grown six inches since the start of the 2009-10 season, was averaging 20.2 points and shooting 56.2 percent from the floor through 12 games. He matched his season high on Jan. 17 when he scored 27 points in a 67-54 win over Northridge.

"He's just so valuable to our team," coach Brian McCants said. "The thing I like about Tarren is he will step away from his game to help a younger guy. He'll pull them aside and tell them, 'Listen, you're just going through some rough times. I went through those in ninth and 10th grade. You can get through this.'"

Taylor doesn't believe he would be the player he is today if not for Armand Troy, a 2009 Wellington graduate who mentored him during his freshman season.

"He'd pull me aside after every rough game or practice," Taylor said of Troy. "It's nice to have a person like that to not let you get down on yourself, someone to pick yourself up when you get down. I just want to be that type of person for my teammates."

Taylor admits, however, that he became obsessed with his own statistics last season, when he averaged a team-high 12 points.

"The biggest thing I had to overcome was my own selfishness," he said. "I had a little taste of stardom last year and, to be honest, it went to my head maybe. Now I'm very team oriented and I play within the team."

Taylor was 5-10 at the beginning of his sophomore season, but he quickly outgrew his school uniform not to mention his basketball sneakers, as he went from a size 12 shoe to a size 14.

His skill set and growth spurt prompted McCants to experiment with him at different positions in the Jaguars' lineup.

"He plays the Scottie Pippen role for me," McCants said. "He can play point guard, shooting guard or post (player). He can shoot (3-pointers), hit the mid-range jump (shot), do the alley-oop or pass. He's grown to be the complete player."

"This year I know my role now and I know what I am capable of," Taylor said. "I know what shots I can make and which ones I can't. It's easier for me to understand what I can do, what I can't do now and what I need to work on."

Taylor would like to close his high school career with a deep run in the Division IV tournament. The Jaguars lost to Newark Catholic 68-37 in a district final in 2010 and lost to Fairfield Christian 45-40 in the second round last season.

Wellington last won a district championship on the court in 2003 when it beat Centerburg 65-52 in the district final. The Jaguars also won a district title in 2005, but that championship was awarded to them after Africentric, which had beaten Wellington 73-46 in the district final on its way to winning the state title, had to forfeit all of its postseason wins for using an ineligible player.

Taylor hopes a steady diet of Division II and Division III opponents this season will prepare the Jaguars for the postseason.

Wellington is 2-1 against Division II teams, 2-4 against Division III opponents and 4-1 against Division IV teams.

"Playing the Division II and Division III schools only makes us look forward to the tournament," Taylor said. "If we can beat these higher division schools, we should be able to play with anyone in our division. We're improving constantly. Every game we're taking a step forward."

•There's something about the Jaguar Invitational that seems to bring out the best in senior Sophie Knowles of the girls basketball team.

Knowles scored 19 points with a tournament-record five 3-pointers in a 43-30 win over Willoughby Andrews Osborne 45-30 in last year's consolation game. In this year's four-team event, she had seven points in a 34-30 win over Horizon Science Academy on Jan. 20 and scored 14 in a 56-28 loss to Shekinah Christian in the championship game on Jan. 21.

"I don't really think about (personal statistics)," she said. "I just try to keep the team together and keep everyone organized."

Knowles was named to this year's all-tournament team.

"We expect her to be a leader of this basketball team," first-year coach Bill Mitchin said. "When things get difficult or we face some adversity, it's important for players like Sophie to take some ownership of the team. That's what I felt she did (last) weekend."

Although Wellington didn't win the Jaguar Invitational, it improved on last year's finish.

"We talked about finishing third in this tournament last season and how we wanted to have a better outcome than that," Mitchin said.

"I feel like we're a better basketball team than that. We would've loved to have won the tournament, but we finished second to a very good Shekinah Christian team."