by Gene F. Conard
From Staff Reports
It started out innocently enough, but innocence and too much against too little is hardly a match for mass destruction.
Lewis Cass’ boys basketball team, coming off a 73-70 overtime setback to Hamilton Heights last week, took the worry out of being close Friday night with a lopsided, 75-40 Mid-Indiana Conference victory over a willing but seriously outgunned Taylor crew.
It wasn’t that coach Andy Lewman’s Titans didn’t toe the line or pursue the task for 32 minutes. But when you finish with 13 more turnovers than field goals (28-15) and get mauled by a 45-18 count in the final 16 minutes, chances for survival are the next thing to zilch.
It was the Kings’ fourth straight success against the Titans, upped their overall record to 3-2 and evened their league slate at 1-1. Taylor tumbled to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the MIC.
Cass coach Jon Kitchel summed it up rather pointedly with: “I didn’t expect this. We had a bad second quarter and were up by just eight at halftime because Taylor played harder and smarter than we did and we didn’t run our offense. We had no patience and didn’t look for the good shot.”
Lewman calmly remarked: “We hurt ourselves by taking too many quick shots and not good shots and didn’t play off two feet. We also weren’t poised and didn’t do a single thing we had worked on all week. We also had 28 turnovers.”
Taylor got its only lead, 7-4, when sophomore Darian Stone meshed one of only two Titan treys two minutes into the contest. Then Blake Hadley and Ryan Bixler grabbed the reins and led Cass on a 14-7 run for an 18-11 lead at the first stop. The spread grew to 27-11 on a 9-0 Cass spree keyed by Jake Martin, Bixler and Austin Keisling and aided by a four-minute Titan dead spot.
It became a contest when Latrell Mitchell, Calvin Wheeler and Darian Stone whittled the spread to 30-22 at the intermission.
Then came the Cass landslide — a third segment that saw the Kings can 11 of 20 shots, outgun Taylor 27-8, and coerce the Titans into seven miscues.
It didn’t help that Taylor hit just 3 of 10 shots including three hopeful, hurried and off-target 3-point efforts.
Hadley was the catalyst in this King revolt, scoring seven straight tallies to open the third act and nine for the quarter.
At this juncture, the Titans were a frigid 12 of 35 afield and had 17 turnovers due to the incessant pressure of the King defense that fluctuated between man-to-man, zone and pressure defenses. It could be said the Titans never had that first fresh, uncontested volley at the hoop the entire night.
It was a gaping, 57-30 entering the fourth period, a situation that got progressively worse. It was 66-34 at the 4:30 mark as Taylor suffered another miserable drought of nearly four minutes, and it was 71-32 when Ryke Langevin, Lane Pierce and Jeremiah Rhoades made one final lunge near the finish.
Wheeler went in averaging 12.3 per game, but he was in a Cass traffic jam the livelong night and had to settle for 10 hard-earned tallies. Mitchell was a workhorse inside with 10 tallies and eight rebounds, and Stone added eight. The Titans didn’t help themselves with 8 of 15 charity work and a miserable 2 of 12 firing from long distance. Again, King hands in faces made the difference.
Kitchel further commented: “We were only up by eight at halftime, mainly because we more concerned with the referees than the game. So we challenged the guys at halftime to play harder and it paid off in a much better second-half effort.”
Lewman finished with: “We let the game get away from us in the third quarter because we rushed our shots, didn’t take care of the ball and just didn’t do the things we had worked on.”
Bixler led the Kings with 16 points and six rebounds; Hadley, averaging 15.3, added 15 points; Keisling, averaging 17.3, had 13 and Owen Ohman and Jake Martin had nine apiece.