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Former Shining Mountain standout Landon Taliaferro has emerged as a dependable scoring threat for the Boulder Panthers.
Mark Leffingwell / Daily Camera
Former Shining Mountain standout Landon Taliaferro has emerged as a dependable scoring threat for the Boulder Panthers.

Success is nothing new to Landon Taliaferro.

Stepping on to the court as a freshman at Shining Mountain back in 2012-13, the lanky guard was quick to find his range and finished as the Lions’ fourth-leading scorer in their Class 1A state runner-up season.

But there is something to be said about big-school hoops, and Taliaferro wanted a taste — especially since good friend Garrett Turner was trying to lure him to Boulder for quite a long time.

“Shining Mountain was a great school, but I wanted to go somewhere bigger and experience different things,” Taliaferro said. “Boulder had had some good teams in the past and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Turner must have been a pretty enticing pitch man, too. Likely to have had continued success at Shining Mountain, Taliaferro instead endured the prep transfer rule as a sophomore and finally worked his way into a starting role as a junior.

Not only is he back starting, but he’s the Panthers’ leading scorer early in 2014-15 at 15.5 points per contest. However, the best part for Taliaferro is that BHS in gaining notoriety in the Class 5A ranks with a pretty hot start at 6-3.

“We’ve got a really skilled team offensively, but I think we just like to compete,” Taliaferro said. “We’ve practiced really hard every day to compete, and that’s what we come out every night to do, is win.”

That’s happened more often than not thanks to the consistency Taliaferro has provided thus far. The junior missed Boulder’s first post-holiday break contest after rolling in ankle in practice, but he returned Tuesday to score 10 points at Heritage while still not being 100 percent healthy. He has been held under 10 points just once, with a season-high 25 points coming against Arvada West on December 6.

His silky shooting — especially from the perimeter where Taliaferro has hit more than 50 percent of his attempts (26 for 50) — has no shock value to Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard. While the team as a whole has chiseled out a groove of consistency on offense, Taliaferro and Turner (14.4 scoring average) have been a potent combination so far in particular.

“The fact that he’s scoring the ball for us doesn’t surprise me at all, because he is a great shooter who can put the ball on the floor and find his own shot and create space,” Eisenhard said. “He was able to do those things, and he’s just getting better and better all the time because he spends the time with a ball in his hand.

“You can’t focus on just one of (Taliaferro or Turner). I think Landon’s been a beneficiary of our ball movement, and Garrett’s benefitted from Landon’s scoring ability. Three teams have come out and face-guard both of those guys, and that’s a tough task.”

Though Taliaferro averaged 9.2 points as a freshman for Enoch Miller’s team at Shining Mountain, he certainly had to be groomed into the player he’s become. In that respect, Taliaferro was thankful that he had to spend most of his sophomore season playing JV ball.

The leap between 1A and 5A is Evil-Knievel-over-the-Grand Canyon-esque, and Eisenhard agreed that it took a while for Taliaferro to adjust. What’s grown in the eyes of both player and coach are more of the intangibles that come along with being an always-needed-on-the-court player.

“I’ve come a long way,” Taliaferro said. “I didn’t know how much different varsity was going to be, and I was by no means ready. I learned a lot at that level, becoming more well-rounded rather than just scoring. Defense, rebounding, being a leader, I learned all that on JV. I was hungry to be on varsity again, too, so I worked incredibly hard. That’s paying off now.”

“That’s a bigger jump than people give it credit for, and he really to adjust defensively,” added Eisenhard, who said he had not heard of nor spoken to Taliaferro prior to him coming to BHS. “Quite frankly, he wasn’t a very good defender when he came in … and now he’s one of our most trusted defenders. After a period of growth, he’s doing exactly what he’s capable of doing.”

To Eisenhard, however, Taliaferro’s contributions have extended beyond his physical abilities on the court.

“I offer the kids a chance to come scout with me, and he’s one of the only ones who picks it up every single time,” Eisenhard said. “Could be a Saturday night, he’ll come with me to go watch a game. He loves it and has high aspirations for the game. He wants to be challenged.”

All the more reason to think success will continue to come naturally for Taliaferro.

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