MONROE — Monroe High School’s overall outlook brightened Saturday night. The trick is making it stay that way.
Kenny Molz made some lineup changes after Friday night’s disheartening overtime loss at Eaton, and his Hornets responded by battering visiting Talawanda 63-33 in a Butler County boys basketball rivalry affair.
“It’s always about the response,” Molz said. “These guys gave great effort and energy tonight. They ran the floor hard and shared the basketball really well. I think moving forward these guys are excited about where we’re headed.”
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The mood was the exact opposite 24 hours earlier after the Hornets squandered a 10-point lead in the last two minutes of regulation and lost 43-37 in overtime at Eaton.
Molz called a team meeting after the bus ride back to Monroe and announced that he was making some changes.
“We got here about 10:30, and obviously I was thinking a lot about the game,” Molz said. “I just decided before we go on a long break, we needed to switch some things up and see how people respond. They have to realize that we’re trying to do things that are bigger than the individual. We’re trying to win basketball games. If you’re a real player and you’re mentally tough and you respond the right way, you’ll accept a new role.
“I understand that it’s hard at this age to handle things like that, especially when it was kind of a surprise last night. But from what I saw tonight, they handled it very maturely. I didn’t get any dirty looks at all. They just went out and played hard.”
Junior Bobby Borneman and a pair of sophomores, Collin Deaton and Jack Taylor, were inserted into Saturday’s starting lineup. Borneman had 11 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, Deaton had nine points and five boards, and Taylor added five points, four steals and three assists.
Borneman, a junior varsity player last year who scored seven total points through the first six games this season, showed some passion on the floor and was thrilled about his first varsity start.
“It gave me a big boost of confidence coming in that I could do it no matter what,” said Borneman, a 6-foot-5 forward/center. “I love playing this game. This game’s awesome. We had to come out tonight with our heads up. It’s a new day, a new game, and we were really unselfish as a team.”
Senior Nick Osterman (eight points) and sophomore Will DeBord (12 points, three rebounds) were also in the starting lineup. Molz plans to stay with this starting five into the new year — Monroe is off until hosting Brookville on Jan. 4.
“After watching what everybody saw tonight, I think it would be hard to say we’re going to switch our lineup,” Molz said. “We still have a lot of inexperience as far as the varsity level goes, but they’re learning fast. These sophomores that are playing are very smart and pick up on things. I can coach ’em hard and they don’t take it personally.”
The Hornets (3-4) only trailed briefly against Talawanda (0-9), which shot 23.1 percent from the field. The Brave opened the game with a three-point play by Craig James, but Monroe scored the next nine points and gained steam throughout the night.
First-year Talawanda coach Bobby Jones is preaching patience and said things aren’t as bad as the Brave’s record might suggest.
“This group has gotten better,” Jones said. “They get better in certain aspects of the game in each practice and each week. Last night we played probably the hardest we’ve played against Harrison (in a 46-34 defeat).
“We’re in the building process. It is a process, and it’s not going to happen overnight. But the kids aren’t getting down on themselves, and they’re not getting down on each other. They’re positive every day in practice. I couldn’t have a better group of kids to work with to get Talawanda basketball turned around. They know their day’s coming.”
Josh Verst led the Brave with 10 points. James added seven.
Jones said Talawanda has been a respectable defensive team. It’s the offense that needs to take a big step forward.
“I thought it would take a good two or three years to get a good defensive system in where the kids are buying in and guarding, but for the most part, they’ve done a good job of defending,” Jones said. “Now we’ve just got to figure out how to put it in the hole. It’s pretty cut and dried.”
The Brave will be at home against Edgewood on Jan. 4.
TALAWANDA (0-9): Craig James 2 3 7; Tommy Winkler 2 1 5; Josh Verst 2 6 10; Braden Wright 1 3 5; Ryan Henes 1 0 2; Tristan Fontaine 1 0 2; David Kraushar 0 2 2. Totals: 9-15-33
MONROE (3-4): Will DeBord 3 4 12; Bobby Borneman 4 3 11; Nick Osterman 1 6 8; Collin Deaton 2 5 9; Jack Taylor 1 3 5; Shawn Poindexter 3 1 7; Tanner Perkins 1 1 4; Adam Ploeger 1 0 2; Caimanne Turner 1 3 5. Totals: 17-26-63
3-pointers: M 3 (DeBord 2, Perkins)