Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Sports Writer
EFFINGHAM—The revitalized Taylorville boys team, hot off their victory over Rochester, traveled to Effingham on Tuesday night. The conference matchup had almost too much emotions at points and strange “what did I just see” moments sprinkled throughout. Walking away victorious were the Tornadoes in what was one of the more physical contests of the season so far.
Traveling as far away as Effingham can be demanding on the players but the Tornadoes showed no signs of fatigue in the first half. Fueled by the quickness of Kamren Heimsness who has become fearless when guessing the passing lanes. The senior ended with 8 points and several fast break steals. Yet, fixable mistakes here and there by both teams kept it reasonable for either team to take the lead. The game marched on into the second half with Taylorville ahead 21-18.
Taylorville was the first to strike in the third quarter. Everything signing up for the visiting team. Bryce Friedrich and Heimsness, showcased their personal connection with smooth transitions to keep the points piling like flapjacks. The senior, Friedrich finished with 22 points to his name and was a perfect five for five at the line. The third quarter ended with the score still in the Tornadoes favor, 31-26.
Senior Luke Markwell opened up scoring in the final quarter. Markwell had a deadly shot close the entire length of the game. He finished with 10 points, going two of three at the free throw line and more importantly, had his best defensive performance to date.
Four minutes left in the fourth Taylorville begins to buckle. So much so that with 3:45 seconds left the Hearts mark their first lead in the match at 35-33. Both teams locked in and needing to score Kamren Heimsness passed the ball to a wide open Will Turvey. The junior found the lane and softly played in the basketball giving the Tornadoes the lead with forty-five seconds left. Turvey earned his A plus for his game with 8 points and his clutch factor. Friedrich tacked on a quick lay up for Taylorville to further their lead to 40-37.
With only seconds left in regulation, Taylorville’s Dylan Brown wisely fouls ensuring Effingham could not shoot the game tying three point shot. This action caused Brown, the senior, to earn his fifth foul of the game leading to a foul out. Brown finished with two points.
The game had not ended however. After leading to a trip to the line for the home team, the Hearts tie it up at 40 to end the regular match and send the game into overtime. The five-minute overtime was filled with a Luke Markwell technical a stolen game winning layup and one impossible shot. Will Bitshenauer, who had been quiet up untill now, received the down court pass from point guard. Being trapped in the corner, the junior had no choice but to heave up with his left hand. The ball banked off the backboard and went right into the basket tying the game at 43 with .8 seconds remaining. Every fan covered their mouth in disbelief.
Silencing the crowd and sending the game into double overtime gave Taylorville the edge they were looking for all game. Senior forward Bryce Friedrich, who had been giving the Flaming Hearts palpitations all night long, had his most impressive length of play in the second overtime. Starting off with a three pointer and putting it away by making four of his flawless five made free throws paved the Tornadoes to a 53-46 Apollo conference victory over the Flaming Hearts of Effingham.
“It’s not pretty basketball but it is winning basketball.” Head Coach Ryan Brown said after the white knuckled battle both of these teams just witnessed. The win over Effingham is Taylorville’s first win against the team on the road since joining the Apollo conference. The Tornadoes improve to 3-4 while the Effingham Flaming Hearts fall to 2-8. Taylorville will look ahead to Monday, Dec. 27, to kick off the 2021 Holiday Tournament in the THS West Gym against conference rival Mt. Zion Braves.