BY DEAN HOCKNEY
SHARPSVILLE, Ind. – Going into the season, new Taylor boys basketball coach Basil Mawbey knew it would not be an easy task to get the Titans back on track. It has been several years since a spotlight has glared on the Taylor Titans boys basketball team. From 2000-2006, the Titans were a force in Howard County, winning four Class 2A sectionals and a regional title in 2000. The Titans were 20-45 in the last four seasons, and with an Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame coach at the helm, the spotlight would return one way or another.
Taylor started with a tough 66-29 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to Class 2A No. 4 Frankton. Friday night at Tri-Central, Mawbey’s Titans fell on the road at Tri-Central 49-39 in a game they could have easily won. Taylor trailed 22-21 at the half, but a cold shooting third quarter spelled doom as the Trojans outscored the Titans 17-7. Dillon Smith and Colby Malson sealed the T-C win with six free throws in the final stanza.
Taylor’s Darian Stone scored 15 to lead the way while Donovan Renbarger added 11. For the Trojans (2-1), Smith had 15 points, Colten Leininger added 11 and Cody Howell nine.
With two losses under its belt, the young Titans could have rolled over the following night on the road at Oak Hill. Instead, Darian Stone hit a game-winning shot with 10 seconds left to propel the Titans to a 57-55 victory – the 662nd of Mawbey’s illustrious career.
“It is fun to be back,” said Mawbey, a member of the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame. “I have been involved in college basketball the last few years at Florida Gulf Coast and IUPUI. So I have been involved, but as a volunteer assistant, you don’t really talk to the kids. So I was antsy and wanted to coach the kids.”
As cold as Taylor’s shooting was against Tri-Central, they were red hot against Oak Hill. The squad hit 25 of 35 shots (71.4 percent) and 5 of 10 from the 3-point area. Stone scored 17 points to lead Taylor, while Marlin Vazquez dropped in 13.
Taylor (1-2) returns to action Friday night when they travel to Northwestern (2-1) for a 7:30 p.m. Mid-Indiana Conference battle. Mawbey’s Center Court debut is Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. when Caston (2-1) visits.