BY MARK SALUKE KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — What a difference a day makes.
For Taylor, the 24-hour turnaround was a night and day difference as the Titans followed Friday’s lackluster loss at Eastern with a convincing 56-39 Mid-Indiana Conference victory over Peru at Center Court Saturday night.
Taylor (4-7, 1-3) led wire-to-wire over the visiting Bengal Tigers, earning its first conference win in the process.
“I’m so glad to get over that hump,” Titan coach Andy Lewman said. “It’s been a weird season. We’re really pleased to get a win in the MIC and get ourselves moving in what is hopefully the right direction. Hopefully, this is a good start to building some momentum through February.”
After closing out January with what Lewman called a “complacent” performance against Eastern, Taylor opened February looking poised and confident from the outset against Peru (5-8, 2-2).
Latrell Mitchell netted Taylor’s first six points of the game on his way to a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double as the Titans took an 8-4 lead following the first eight minutes.
“He’s so consistent. He did another tremendous job getting to the glass and converting plays,” Lewman said. “He set the tone offensively and wanted to play with an attitude, which sort of spread to everyone else.”
Mitchell gave Taylor a 10-6 lead with a bucket to start the second quarter and then Calvin Wheeler took over on offense, scoring eight of his 13 points in the frame and keeping the lead in the Titans hands, 20-17 at the half.
The Tigers got to within a point at the start of the second half when Austin Finicle’s hoop made it 20-19, but that’s as close as Peru would get the rest of the game. Taylor got the lead back up to five at 24-19 and the squads traded baskets back and forth for much of the third frame. Mitchell gave the Titans an eight-point lead, 37-29, with his basket to close out the quarter.
Taylor outscored Peru 12-5 over the first 4:40 of the fourth quarter to go up 49-34 on a Darian Stone basket with 3:22 to play. Stone, quiet over the first three quarters, scored all nine of his points in the final eight minutes, including back-to-back hoop-and-harms that gave Taylor a 43-34 lead.
Peru coach Jim Metcalfe pulled his starters with 3:00 to play and the Titans spent the rest of the game at the charity stripe, where they knocked down 7-of-10 over the final 2:10.
Taylor did an outstanding job limiting 6-foot-11 Peru junior Seth Adelsperger. Adelsperger scored 12 points and grabbed ten rebounds to lead the Tigers, but he had seven inches on Taylor’s tallest player. The Titans outmuscled the Tigers for a 34-27 advantage on the glass.
“He’s going to get his rebounds, just with his length,” Lewman said of Adelsperger. “We just concentrated on blocking out. Every possession, he was a focal point of our blockouts. We didn’t want him to get easy putbacks. I think we did a good job making him work.”
Eddie Childers chipped in 11 points for Peru. Sophomore Cole Schroeder scored eight for Taylor.