• Benton Central (11-10) faces host Twin Lakes (14-7) in today’s first semifinal.
TAYLOR (6-13) VS. TIPTON (12-8)
Tipton fought off a Taylor rally to win the regular-season contest 61-58 on Feb. 8. Including that game, Tipton has won seven games decided by six or fewer points, while losing just three games that were within that margin or tied at the end of regulation.
“They do a great job of managing the clock in the fourth quarter,” Taylor coach Andy Lewman said. “[The Blue Devils] will get up and down the floor in the third quarter, but if they’ve got the lead in the fourth quarter they do a great job of really shortening the game. The clock’s going to go fast, they’re going to work the ball around and take 30, 40 seconds, even a minute off the clock in a possession. You can’t let that happen.”
Mason Degenkolb leads the Blue Devil offense. The sophomore guard has scored 35 points in back-to-back games, including Tipton’s 68-60 win over Alexandria in the sectional on Tuesday.
“I feel like we’ve taken some strides forward defensively during the month of February,” Lewman said. “Stopping Mason Degenkolb is going to be a key part of things. You want to limit the opportunities he’s getting.”
Lewman said the Titans gave up too many uncontested looks and second-chance points in the first game, items he wants to correct today. On the Tipton end, the Devils don’t want to let Taylor force them out of their plan, as happened in the first meeting.
“They’re aggressive to the hole,” Tipton coach Brad Dickey said of the Titans. “They’ve got three or four guys that can score the ball and in our previous game they pressed and pressured us very effectively toward the end of the game. When we should have been able to hold the ball and run some plays, they didn’t allow it.”