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LINCOLN — The THS boys pose after an impressive double overtime win over Apollo-Conference powerhouse Lincoln Railsplitters.
Pictured above from Right to Left: Zane Anthony, Will Turvey, Baron Odam, Jake McConnell, Drake Howard, Will Bitschenauer, Ryan Johnson, Myles Clayton, Dylan Brown, Bryce Friedrich, Luke Markwell, Kamren Heimsness and Asst. Coach Josh Smith.
Breeze-Courier Sports Editor
LINCOLN — For their first match out of a three conference game run Taylorville traveled to Lincoln on Monday February 7th. The Tornado vs Railsplitter matchup was a nail biter from tip-off to final buzzer spanning all four quarters and two overtimes. However, it was the good guys coming out of the scrap victorious.
This was the second time the teams have met this season. Their first get-together resulted in a home court 40-32 point loss for T-Ville. The Tornadoes’ match began a little slow at first falling behind 29-18 at the half. The boys kicked it into overdrive and out scored their opponents 18-7 in the third quarter alone.
Leading the charge was THS senior Bryce Friedrich. He put up 21 points and 13 rebounds in the contest. Seniors Dylan Brown and Luke Markwell added 6 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Markwell was perfect from the floor going 3/3 in field goals. Kam Heimsness added 13 points of his own. The senior also had 7 rebounds and a steal.
Rounding out the scoring was Drake Howard. The freshman totaled 2 points, 2 steals and an assist
The fun really started to ramp up in the final stages of the game. Going into the final quarter of regulation all tied up at 44, Lincoln going for the season sweep and Taylorville trying to add to their conference wins everyone in the gym knew they were about to watch a show. The teams knew defense would be the key to victory, only putting up 5 a piece on offense the buzzer sounded and overtime it was.
Same story in the first OT, adding just 4 points to each respective totals and still finding themselves at a stalemate. They went into double overtime for the second time this season.
Their first time visiting double overtime ended with the Tornadoes snatching the win. That game was too a conference matchup against the Effingham Hearts. The match ended with a final score of 53-46. This game was no different. The Tornadoes finished strong and ahead by only one point. They out scored their opponent in OT two by a score of 9-8 giving them the win.
Taylorville handed previously undefeated (Apollo) Lincoln Railsplitters 54-53.
MATTOON — Taylorville was on the road again for the next game of the conference week. This time they were headed to Mattoon to take on the Greenwave whom they tripped up earlier in the year on the Dolph Stanley home court, 54-51. As for the away game on February 7th, even though the location was different the ending was similar. The Tornadoes took another win away from the Mattoon Greenwave, 45-39 the final.
Two way guard, Luke Markwell lead the Tornadoes into battle. The senior hoisted up 15 points, 2 steals and a block in the Tuesday night matchup. Seniors Kamren Heimsness and Bryce Friedrich added 22 points to the total. Friedrich was nearly flawless from the free throw lime putting up 13 points on 14 attempts. Heimsness gathered 1 assist, 1 block and 1 steal. The pair also added 11 rebounds. Will Bitschenauer threw up six points of his own shooting 3/4 from beyond the arch. Dylan Brown and Drake Howard might have only scored a combined two points but they did more than enough on the opposite side of the ball. Brown had 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal while Howard shut down his man and drew a charge. The pair also had 4 rebounds between each other.
The match itself was a bit of an anomaly. Taylorville only out scored their opponent in the first quarter. They left enough breathing room to spare throughout the rest of the match. Mattoon couldn’t find much room past the Tornado defense.
Taylorville defeated Mattoon on the road 45-39.
TAYLORVILLE — For the Apollo conference finale in 2022 the Tornadoes hosted the Mohamet-Seymour Bulldogs. The two have a similar defensive style of play which made scoring the ball difficult for either team to do. Taylorville fought hard and kept it close right up until the final minutes of the game. They fell to their opponent on Friday night, 41-35 the final.
“Just tough to score against a really good defensive team like Mohamet.” commented Taylorville Head Coach Ryan Brown. “We just weren’t able to execute especially in that first half.”
The Tornadoes did indeed have a case of the first half blues only putting up 11 total points at the end of the half.
After the half the Tornadoes ramped things up. They out scored the Bulldogs by 5 which, in this game, felt like 15. Seniors Heimsness and Friedrich combined for a solid 24 points. Friedrich earned a double-double in the contest also notching 12 boards. Seniors Dylan Brown and Luke Markwell put up a combined 5 points but had their usual game on the other side of the ball. The two locked up their opposition and only allowed a total of 5 points from them as well. Will B’s made a birthday three-pointer giving him 3 points. Happy *Late* Birthday to Will. And Drake Howard finished up the scoring for the Tornadoes. The freshman gave 3 points of his own and also some solid defense.
“We are who we are.” stated Brown “We’re always going to hang our hat on defense and defense is always going to give us a chance and it did tonight.”
The Tornadoes fall short of victory to Mahomet by a final score of 41-35.
A successful week for the Taylorville boys basketball team. Nothing short of impressive. Three Apollo conference matches. Three spectacular performances.
“We’ve had a pretty good week.” Brown reflects “ We beat Mattoon and Lincoln on the road and those two wins right there boosted us up probably two seeds for the Post-Season. It was a good week and we were rewarded.”
Coach Brown isn’t worried the loss to the Bulldogs shakes things up or changes anything as far as the identity of the team as a whole.
As far as the post season goes the Tornadoes would have liked to had ridden that ‘Wave’ of momentum into Regionals but they remain optimistic and ready.
“When you’re from around here, not from the Central State 8, you know the post season will go through the Central State 8 and this year is no different.”