ROSSVILLE — It was a Hoosier Heartland Conference boys basketball showdown on Friday evening between Taylor and Rossville, which played host to the Titans. In a 59-55 final in favor of Rossville, the Hornets made pivotal plays down the stretch and pushed their winning streak against the Titans to seven seasons in a row.
Taylor came into the contest as the conference leader and with a four-game overall winning streak.
It was all Hornets in the opening quarter, scoring the first 15 points of the game and giving Rossville an 18-6 lead at the end of the quarter.
Taylor coach Dennis Bentzler felt that the opening minutes of the game proved to be the deciding factor in the game, putting the Titans in an uphill battle from the start.
“Bottom line is we lose the game in the first four minutes of the game. … We talked about how they were going to push it in transition, they’re a drive and kick team, and they shoot the 3 well. They really got out so fast, they just stunned us,” he said.
Taylor righted the ship moving forward, going on a 12-0 run of its own in the second quarter to cut the Hornets’ lead to 21-20 at the four-minute mark.
The Titans’ Jaylen Harris started the run with a 3-point play after a drive to the basket followed by a trip to the line. Ryley Gilbert contributed to the offensive outburst with two successful trips to the line and a fast-break layup.
Harris led the Titans with 17 points while Nathan Keene chipped in with 13.
Taylor gave up an 11-point run midway through the third after taking the lead earlier on and the Titans found themselves in an uphill battle once again.
Despite the loss, Bentzler prided his team’s effort throughout the game.
“What I’m proud about is our kids,” he said, “We had the opportunity to win it, we had a chance to control our destiny in the conference, but I thought we did a nice job [Friday], hanging in there, mental toughness, and our kids just kept fighting.”
Late in the fourth, Rossville made their way to the free-throw line as well as converting on a 3 from the corner, breaking the game open and putting the game out of reach for Taylor in the end.
With the loss, Taylor dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference with a matchup at home against Mississinewa tonight.