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BOYS BB: Taylor surges past Blackford with strong 3rd quarter

Feb. 29—TIPTON — Taylor's boys basketball team used balanced scoring and a dominant third quarter to beat Blackford 51-46 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Class 2A Tipton Sectional.

Taylor (16-8) advances to face Eastbrook (7-16) in the semifinal round on Friday. The Titans are looking to make it back to the sectional final after finishing runners-up to Tipton last year.

Sophomore guard Drey McClatchey led the Titans in Wednesday's win with 13 points, freshman guard Keyshawn Galloway scored 11 points, sophomore forward Javionne Harris had 10 and junior guard Connor Binnion had nine.

"I feel like McClatchey, Galloway, Binnion, Harris and [Christian] Hall, throw those names in a bag and you can pick any one of them out and they can be our leading scorer," Taylor coach Bob Wonnell said. "This is my 17th year of coaching. I've had teams like that before and they don't always share the ball like this. Sometimes one guy gets going and the next guy is like, 'What about me?' I don't ever sense that with this group.

"That's a pretty cool feeling to have and they're a fun group to coach. We're excited to get to go to practice [today]."

Wonnell also noted the play of junior guard/forward Jaylin Wooten. He scored five points.

"He's always a physical, vocal guy whose contributions don't show up sometimes in the boxscore, but to winning basketball is really important. But over these last few games, he's been getting a couple buckets a game and that makes a difference," he said.

Harris finished with 12 rebounds for a double-double. He also had three assists.

Taylor and Blackford battled through six lead changes and two ties in the first half. When the dust settled, the Titans took a 29-28 lead into halftime.

From there, Taylor took control by outscoring Blackford 11-3 in the third quarter to build a 40-31 lead. McClatchey scored nine points, capped by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

"He was struggling in the first half," Wonnell said. "We went in at halftime and said, 'Hey, keep your head up and keep fighting.' It was our ball to start the third quarter and we ran a set for him, got him a nice curl cut and he hit it. You could see just a little [sigh of] relief from him."

Taylor went up by 12 early in the fourth quarter, but the Titans left the door open by missing free throws. They made just 7 of 15 attempts in the quarter. The Bruins, meanwhile, caught fire and hit five 3-pointers over the final 4:26.

The Bruins closed to within three, 49-46, with 58 seconds remaining. But Harris calmly sank two free throws at :42 to bump it back to a two-possession game and the Titans held on from there for the win.

"We had a game against Carroll a couple weeks ago that was eerily similar," Wonnell said. "We took poor shots and then didn't defend [in the Carroll game] whereas [Wednesday] we moved the basketball around, were able to get into good scoring positions to make them foul us, to get into the bonus. Then we were kind of 50-50 at the line, but we at least was eating some of that clock.

"And then on the defensive end, I thought we were pretty sound. We left [their shooters] open a little too much in crunch time, but we found a way to win."

The Titans finished 18 of 32 (56%) from the field. Wonnell said multiple ball reversals is what Taylor consistently needs in half-court situations.

"I thought in this game, particularly in that third quarter, we started to grind them out a little bit. I think that played a factor in us being able to get into the lane better and us getting to the line," he said.

Jacob Leas and Ethan Morris led Blackford (13-11) with 12 points apiece. They combined for six 3-pointers, including four in the fourth quarter.

Eastbook beat Madison-Grant 61-50 in Wednesday's second game.

Taylor beat Eastbrook 54-46 on Jan. 27 at Center Court.

"It was a really good game," Wonnell said. "We'll get back to school [today] and start our quick turnaround and prepare."

Bryan Gaskins is the Tribune's sports editor. He may be reached at bryan.gaskins@kokomotribune.com or 765-454-8567.