CONVERSE — Taylor’s boys basketball team found itself down 12 points to Oak Hill on two different occasions Saturday night. The Titans fought their way back in the fourth quarter, but Oak Hill’s Clay McCorkle hit a shot with seconds to go to give his team a 54-52 win.
“What a great run these kids made,” said Titans coach Dennis Bentzler. “They got it down to five [points], then [Oak Hill] got it back up. At one point, I think it was 47-35 — 12 points. Then I think we made a run, and that’s when we got on top.”
The Titans (0-2) trailed the entire game until the fourth quarter. Ryley Gilbert started a rally in the middle of the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and a then a layup following a steal. That cut Oak Hill’s lead from 10 to five. The Golden Eagles then hit two free throws and a bucket before Toric Spires added a free throw, and Nathan Keene completed an and-one. The Titans trailed by five entering the final quarter.
Taylor had its first lead of the night with a score of 47-46 after a Tyler Hall 3-pointer followed by a Gilbert 3-pointer opened the fourth quarter.
“But we had a possession or two when we had the one-point lead … that we just didn’t execute very well. We got to a point where we just said we weren’t going to take anything but a layup or a free throw,” Bentzler said.
Oak Hill’s McCorkle hit a shot from mid-range to retake the lead. Teammate Blake Fox hit a bucket under the basket from an in-bounds pass to extend the lead for the Golden Eagles back out to three.
Titans freshman Kaiden Blane hit a layup, and then Gilbert completed another and-one to give the Titans a 52-50 advantage with 1:55 remaining.
Off another inbounds pass, Oak Hill’s Tristen Hayes hit a bucket under the basket to tie the game with 1:45 left to play.
“I’m proud of the kids’ effort,” said Bentzler.
“Ryley and Toric try to get us going offensively. Tyler tries to put the ball on the floor and attack. We got out of control [and] lost it a few times. That was Toric, Tyler, and Ryley — all three — they are just trying to make something happen. But it gets us out of sorts a little bit.”
Taylor’s early undoing came from poor shot selection and difficulty getting the ball inside past the Oak Hill defense.
“We’re to a point now where we have to figure out a way to win. We have to learn how to win. We’re close,” said Bentzler.
“Hopefully at some point in time, we can make some better decisions, we can hit some more shots, and hit some free throws.”
Gilbert led all scorers with 24 points, including five 3-point baskets. Spires contributed 15 points and led the team with five rebounds.