OXFORD — For the Talawanda High School boys basketball team, it was one step forward and two steps back Tuesday night.
The Brave battled all evening, but fell victim to 24 turnovers in a 51-39 loss to visiting Little Miami in Southwest Ohio Conference action.
Talawanda fell behind 13-2 only to creep all the way back to 45-39 with 1:20 left, but turned the ball over after a timeout, much to first-year coach Bobby Jones’ chagrin.
BOYS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
“Our youth and inexperience kind of showed through there at the end,” Jones said. “I can’t fault our kids’ effort. You can’t beat anyone when you turn the ball over 24 times. We just need to learn how to take care of the ball in crunch-time situations and settle down a bit and work for a good shot.”
Junior Josh Verst had a team-high 15 points to lead the Brave, but Talawanda shot only 16-of-47 from the field, 3-of-16 from beyond the arc.
“That was probably (Verst) best game,” Jones said. “He is kind of a quiet assassin out there. He played really, really good for us tonight. That was a bright spot for us.”
Jones said the rough start was something the Brave have talked about, but their inexperience is something they continue to battle while falling to 0-7 overall and 0-2 in the SWOC.
“We tell the kids they have to have a short memory,” Jones said. “We talked a lot about being mentally focused at the beginning of games and not let the other team throw the first punch. We have had a couple games where we threw the first punch, but it was fool’s gold. They are not used to being in that situation, and if it takes the whole season to figure it out, then so be it.”
Little Miami received 19 points from senior Cole Spencer, and 10 points and nine rebounds from Zach Carrillo. Spencer had 14 points in the second half as the Panthers improved to 2-3, 1-1.
LMHS attempted 14 treys in the first half but only five in the second, instead attacking the lane. The Panthers shot 10-of-24 in the second half.
“We tried to open up the lane a little bit because they were clogging the lane earlier with their big guys,” Little Miami coach Mike Craig said. “We wanted to spread them out more in the second half and open up some driving lanes and get to the basket.”
Talawanda trailed all night, with the Panthers leading 25-17 at half and 37-26 after three quarters, but the visitors got a little loose with the ball in the final quarter, committing six of their 13 turnovers as the Brave made a run.
Seniors David Kraushar and Tommy Winkler combined for seven points in the final period as Talawanda cut the lead to 45-39, but Little Miami ran off the last six points of the game.
“We just needed to execute,” Craig said of the fourth quarter. “We made some bad decisions, missed a couple of layups we should make, but we got some stops and pulled it out.”
Talawanda owned the glass by a 42-28 margin, but the Brave missed several close shots.
“The guys are working hard,” Jones said. “They come to practice and continue to work hard, but it takes time. Slowly and surely we are getting there, but it is a process. We knew that going in.”
Both teams are back in SWOC action at home Friday, with Little Miami facing Northwest and Talawanda meeting Harrison.
Little Miami 15-10-12-14—51
LITTLE MIAMI (2-3, 1-1 SWOC): Zach Carrillo 5 0 10; Ketan Prathapa 2 0 6; Garrett Briscoe 1 4 6; Cole Spencer 8 3 19; Antonio Holman 2 2 8; Andy Tucker 1 0 2. Totals: 19-9-51
TALAWANDA (0-7, 0-2 SWOC): Craig James 1 0 2; Tommy Winkler 3 1 7; Josh Verst 6 0 15; Braden Wright 0 1 1; Jonathan Richter 3 0 6; David Kraushar 2 2 6; Matthew Bowling 1 0 2. Totals: 16-4-39
3-pointers: L 4 (Prathapa 2, Holman 2), T 3 (Verst 3)