By John Bombatch
DAYTON — There was no overlooking Middletown Christian this time.
Just 17 days after losing their only Metro Buckeye League game by 10 points during the regular season, Yellow Springs (20-6) bashed the same Eagles, 66-24, to win Thursday night’s Division IV district title game at UD Arena.
Senior center Isaiah Taylor dominated Middletown Christian (14-11), especially in the first half. Taylor had scored 14 points and hauled in 10 rebounds by halftime. He finished with a game-high 19 points and 15 boards.
“We all started playing together when we were sophomores, and so now we’re a pretty senior-dominated team,” Taylor explained. “I think with the leadership of all the seniors, we were able to do this. When we came into (the 77-67 loss in Middletown), we took them lightly. So this time, we wanted to show them that we were the better team and we didn’t want to let up.”
Even when the Bulldogs pulled out to a commanding lead and began subbing in other players, the team still didn’t let up. Six different Yellow Springs players connected from 3-point range. Starters Taylor, Ethan Dewine and Jonathan Clark combined for five treys. Reserves Andrew Clark, Tony Marinelli and James Browning hit four more.
Middletown Christian coach Eric Gwinn muttered to himself when he saw that Yellow Springs had hit nine 3-pointers against his team.
“I think my team gave a good effort, but I think Yellow Springs just was a buzz saw tonight,” Gwinn said. “Defensively, offensively, and then when they missed shots they got rebounds. The longer that went on, the harder it was for us to catch our breath and make shots and so forth…”
To go along with Taylor’s 19, Kaner Butler finished with 12 points, and Dewine scored 10. All but one Bulldog player scored at least three points in the lopsided win.
“When the ball moves into the right places with our guys, and you see those threes go down, that’s how we got to where we are. So it’s through that hard work that we got it done,” Yellow Springs coach Steve Grasso said.
Grasso called Taylor a special player.
“He steps up and scores when we need him to, he can make the extra pass, or bring the ball up court and cross over people. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s willing to do whatever it takes for his team,” Grasso said.
Taylor also led the Bulldogs in assists (six) and in free throws made (three). He and Kaner led the team in blocked shots with two apiece.
Dre Shores was the only Middletown Christian Eagle to get into double figures. He finished with 10 points.
Yellow Springs outrebounded Middletown Christian by a 38-19 margin.
Grasso said he thinks it’s Yellow Springs’ first boys basketball district title since the 2003-‘04 season.
The Bulldogs will now take on either Lima Perry or St. Henry at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 at James S. Trent Arena in Kettering for a D-IV Regional semifinal game. The Perry-St. Henry contest takes place at 7 p.m, tonight, March 4 at Wapakoneta High School.
Trent Arena is a place close to Grasso’s heart.
“It’s special for me because, as a former assistant at (Kettering) Fairmont, I’m going back n0w and bringing a team back to Trent Arena in the regionals,” Grasso said. “I’m really excited about it.”