Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2016 6:00 am
By AARON KENNEDY – firstname.lastname@example.org
It took them a while to get going, but the Rossville Hornets broke a 12-12 tie late in the first half with an Enrique Rangel 3-pointer and held on to earn a 47-40 win over the Basil Mawbey-coached Taylor Titans on Tuesday night at Center.
It was the lowest scoring output for the Hornets all season.
If it weren’t for Christian Howard knocking down a shot in the paint with just half a second left in the period, the Hornets would have finished the first quarter with just two points.
“We got some good looks from outside and, clearly, they weren’t falling for us tonight,” Rossville head coach Cory Dunn said. “Usually, we are a very good 3-point shooting team – especially when (Enrique Rangel and Blake Miller) are shooting it.
“Luckily, I feel like us coaches had the kids prepared yesterday in the fact that tonight was going to be a grind,” Dunn added. “They were going to make it a slow-down game. I told them to not get caught up in what the score is. The only thing that we have to make sure of is that we are winning. We like to put points on the board, and we run it.”
Dunn had expected the game to be slower than the Hornets’ regular play.
“With Matt (Homco) out, it is hard for us to put on defensive pressure to speed people up, so we have to play a little differently, and I knew it was going to be a slowed-down game,” he said.
Homco, a senior point guard for the Hornets, has missed the last few games with an illness.
Miller’s early foul trouble put him on the bench, adding to Rossville’s offensive doldrums.
“That takes some of our firepower away,” Dunn said. “He and Enrique basically average the same. Having him on the bench for three-fourths of the first half really killed us as far as scoring goes.”
Down 5-4 to start the first quarter, senior forward Brent Tonsoni shook the Hornets’ nest by knocking down a 3-pointer to give Rossville its first lead of the night. After Dontae Campbell scored to tie the game at 7, Rangel got on the state sheet with his first 3 of the night. Gavin Cox answered on the other side for Taylor, so Rangel found Howard to push the lead back to three points.
After Cole Schroder made a 3-pointer to give the Titans their last tie of the night, Rangel made his second 3 to put the Hornets ahead for good.
Taylor twice cut the lead to a single point in the third quarter, but the Hornets built a 29-24 lead by the end of the period and got six points in the paint from Howard in the final four minutes to keep the Titans at bay and return home west on State Road 26 with the win.
Beating the Titans’ press and finding Howard helped Rossville close the game out.
“It was really crucial, especially when a team is not used to pressing that much,” Dunn said. “Taylor doesn’t press that much. To me, it is crucial that we stay in attack mode. Every time it seems that we came out of attack mode, we turned it over.
“When a team puts that much pressure on and they are gambling and scratching and clawing, I think you have to have your head up and attack. We found Howard for about three easy buckets there late.”
Rangel finished with a team-high 17 points, while Howard scored 12, Jared Warren added eight, and Miller was held to seven. Tonsoni’s catalyst 3-pointer rounded out the scoring for the Hornets.
Darian Stone led the Titans with 12 points, and four Taylor players added six points apiece.
Rossville’s junior varsity lost the early game 53-43.
The Hornets (14-7) travel to Lafayette on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Faith Christian Eagles.
“We have to stop dribble penetration,” Dunn said. “They really like to drive, kick it and shoot the 3-ball a lot. Obviously, we had some trouble stopping penetration tonight. Stone is a heck of an athlete, so he is hard to stop. We have to focus on stopping dribble penetration and giving them just one shot is a big key.”
HORNETS 47, TITANS 40
Howard 6 0-0 12, Warren 4 0-1 8, Miller 3 0-0 7, Rangel 5 4-5 17, Tonsoni 1 0-0 3. Totals – 19 4-6 47.
Renbarger 2 2-2 6, Stone 4 4-5 12, Cox 2 1-2 6, Vasquez 2 2-2 6, Schroder 2 0-0 6, Leicht 1 0-0 2, Campbell 1 0-0 2. Totals – 14 9-11 40.
Rossville 4 13 12 18 — 47
Taylor 5 9 10 16 — 40
3-Point Goals – Rossville 5 (Rangel 3), Taylor 3 (Schroeder 2). Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Rossville 14, Taylor 10.