The final tally on the scoreboard didn’t tell the full story of Taylor’s boys basketball team’s season opener with Frankton at Center Court Wednesday night.
The Titans clawed, fought and scrapped with the Eagles for most of the game before the visitors pulled away down the stretch.
Frankton used a 13-2 fourth quarter run to stretch a 43-38 lead at the start of the period to its largest of the game, 56-40, with 2:20 remaining. The Titans chipped away in the waning minutes but could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way, falling 58-47.
Bobby Wonnell finished with a game high 25 points in his first action with Taylor after transferring over from Kokomo while father Bob Wonnell now has his first game as Titans coach under his belt.
“For the first game, all in all I was pretty excited,” Bob Wonnell said. “This is a great game for us to start the season with an established team who has got good ball players at every single catch. So we had to be sharp. I thought our defense showed some spurts. I thought our press did some decent things at times. But we turned the ball over a ton and that killed us.”
Taylor matched Frankton in overall shooting percentage (43%) owned a commanding 36-25 rebounding edge, and connected on 5 of 8 3-point attempts (63%). But the stat that stood out the most was the turnover disparity. The Titans had 28 miscues.
Taylor turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter and added ten to that in the second quarter, but still managed to put a dent in Frankton’s lead. The Eagles led 19-10 at the first stop and after hitting two shots to open the second quarter held a 23-10 lead.
Bobby Wonnell sparked the Titans with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 23-17 midway through the period. After Frankton’s lead had swelled back to 30-19, Bobby Wonnell hit a 3-pointer and Cody Grove drilled another trey with time winding down to make it 30-25 at the half.
Bobby Wonnell scored a bucket out of the gate to open the second half and get Taylor within three points at 30-27 but the Titans would get no closer. Frankton kept Taylor at arm’s length the rest of the quarter, its lead swelling to 43-34 with 1:30 to play before Bobby Wonnell closed the quarter with a 3-pointer and the first of two free throws to get the Titans back within five heading to the fourth. In the final quarter, the Eagles would create just enough separation to pull away.
“Every time that we could kind of get it manageable we just lost our composure,” Bob Wonnell said. “We just shot ourselves a lot with handling the basketball.”
Mekhi McGee had a strong all-around game for Taylor, netting 12 points and pulling down seven boards, five of those coming on the offensive glass.
“Mekhi is going to be a huge guy for us,” Bob Wonnell said. “I thought Jay Patterson did some good things. He and Misiah Bebley rebounded the ball really well. We went seven deep and all seven of them did something positive to contribute to the team.”
Patterson, Bebley and Bobby Wonnell finished with eight rebounds each for the Titans.
Tyler Bates led a balanced Frankton scoring attack with 19 points. Jacob Davenport added 12 and Colin Gardner followed with 11. Those three were responsible for Frankton’s run to open the game, which saw the Eagles leading 12-4 when they went into a full court press that took the Titans time to adjust to and led to several of Taylor’s early turnovers.
The Titans eventually found success in breaking the press, which Frankton ran for much of the night. At that point, Taylor had weathered Frankton’s opening punch and stayed within striking distance the rest of the game.
“It stinks that we lost but I’m excited to get back at it [at practice] on Friday,” Bob Wonnell said. “There’s a lot to be happy about.”
Taylor is back in action when it hosts Maconaquah Saturday in a game that was originally scheduled at Maconaquah but due to issues with the Braves’ court will now be played at Center Court.