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BOYS BB: Titans rock Bulldogs with 30-2 stretch in opening half

Jan. 12—Taylor's boys basketball team crushed Clinton Central 75-34 on Thursday night at Center Court to remain unbeaten in the Hoosier Heartland Conference.

Taylor is 3-0 in the HHC. Carroll and Clinton Prairie are tied for second with 2-0 records and Eastern and Tri-Central are tied for fourth at 2-1. Taylor's final five conference games include all four of those teams.

"We say this all the time, 'You can't win the conference championship in one game, but you can lose it,' so we have to just keep plugging," Taylor coach Bob Wonnell said. "We can't get ahead of ourselves. We have to stay together, stay the course. We're a young team and we need to keep trying to get better."

The Titans (10-3 overall) clicked on all cylinders in Thursday's win. They put four scorers in double figures, shot 58.2% (32 of 55) from the field, held the Bulldogs to 23% shooting (9 of 39) and finished with a plus-15 turnover differential. The Titans committed just five turnovers.

Freshman guard Keyshawn Galloway scored a game-high 23 points to lead Taylor's balanced attack. Sophomore guard Christian Hall followed with 21 points, junior guard Connor Binnion had 12 points and sophomore guard Drey McClatchey had 10. Sophomore forward Javionne Harris provided a nice line of six points, six rebounds and five assists.

Clinton Central (1-9, 0-4 HHC) jumped to a 10-4 lead midway through the first quarter before Taylor took control.

"We came out a little sluggish," Wonnell said. "We are such a quick team that everybody, whether they're playing a man or a zone, they're going to pack it in and dare us to take quick jumpers. At the start, for whatever reason, it takes us a little bit to figure it out, but the quicker we can move the basketball, we'll force the defense to move and open up some lanes for us."

The Titans quickly settled in. They closed the first quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 17-12 lead — and then scored the first 17 points of the second quarter for a 34-12 lead. The Titans went on to lead 43-18 at halftime. Galloway had 17 points in the half and Hall had 11, all in the second quarter.

The Titans led 61-30 at the end of the third quarter. When they scored the first four points of the final quarter, their lead reached 35 points, which triggered the a running clock under the IHSAA's mercy rule.

After the Bulldogs made 5 of 11 shots in the first quarter, the Titans held them to 4-of-28 shooting the rest of the way. The Titans also forced 15 turnovers over the final three quarters.

"I think our energy picked up and our attention to detail picked up. I think that led to our offense," Wonnell said. "Sometimes we just have to get hot on defense. We have to get locked in, sit in a stance, and do what we're supposed to do. We need to control our effort, attitude, energy and concentration.

"When we're playing good defense, we can be a handful, for sure," he added.

Cole Davison and Amrin Barrett led the Bulldogs with seven points apiece.

Taylor hosts Western on Saturday. The Titans will look to end an 18-game losing streak in the series. In Wonnell's time with the Titans, Western has dealt Taylor a pair of heart-breaking losses. Two seasons ago, the Panthers won 64-62 in overtime on a 3-pointer the buzzer. Last season, Western beat Taylor 44-38, ending the Titans' 12-0 start.

"Anytime we get a chance to play the county schools, we want to come out and earn respect for Taylor," Wonnell said. "We're in year 3 now, we're trying to show we're a program, not just a [one-year] team. We want to be a program that you're talking about as a conference contender, you're talking about as a sectional contender, even with the groups that we'd have to go through.

"We have to go home now, get some rest, get to school on time, have a great day at school and then have a great practice. We're going to playing a good team Saturday in a crazy environment. Everybody is going to be hyped and that's when you have to be at your mentally toughest. I'm excited to see how we do."

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