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Taylor men at IWU highlights today's basketball schedule

CROSSROADS CLASH: Indiana Wesleyan’s Kyle Mangas (left) defends Taylor’s Mason Degenkolb during one of the Wildcats wins over the Trojans during the 2017-18 season. Both players will likely have a big impact on which team wins this year’s first meeting when Taylor visits IWU at 7 p.m. today in Luckey Arena.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

While the Crossroads League is full of rivalry games, the top NAIA Division II conference in America will feature one of its most intense today in Indiana Wesleyan’s Luckey Arena.

Fresh off its 95-92 win over Bethel on Saturday, defending national champion and fourth-ranked IWU plays host to cross-county rival Taylor. The Trojans are one of the hottest teams in the Crossroads League and bring a six-game winning streak into Marion after knocking off No. 19 Saint Francis, 75-72 on Saturday in Upland.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Indiana Wesleyan has won 14 in a row in the series, including a pair of nine-point victories during the 2017-18 regular season then ending Taylor’s campaign with a 102-78 in a Crossroads League tournament game on Feb. 21, 2018.

Taylor’s last win came on Feb. 14, 2012, a 77-66 decision under legendary coach Paul Patterson in the final year both institutions were part of the Mid-Central Conference. 

The Wildcats enter today on a four-game winning streak, but were extended into the final seconds to pick up wins over No. 13 Indiana Tech (87-85 on Dec. 28) and Bethel.  IWU is averaging nearly 91 points per game, ranked 12th in NAIA DII, while allowing just over 75 points a night. The 15-point scoring margin is 10th in the country. IWU also ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage (44 percent), third in overall field goal percentage (54 percent) and eighth in assists per game (18.4).

Reigning Crossroads League Player of the Year Kyle Mangas is working on a repeat and leads the league at better than 23 points per game. The sophomore from Warsaw, Indiana is hitting nearly 59 percent of his field goal attempts (142-of-242) and comes off a 39-point effort against Indiana Tech and 35 points against Bethel.

Senior Evan Maxwell is chipping in nearly 15 a game for the Wildcats while junior Canaan Coffey scores 10.4 points and leads IWU with 52 made three pointers.

Taylor is also a potent offensive unit, scoring at nearly 81 points a contest while the Trojans allow 73 points per game. 

Junior guards Ryan Robinson (18.7 ppg) and Mason Degenkolb (15.7) lead the Trojans offensive attack while freshman Jason Hubbard and senior Jake Heggeland each score about nine points per game. Hubbard, Heggeland and freshman CJ Penha all average over five rebounds per game.

Boys basketball

Oak Hill (3-7) at Southwood (3-7), 7:30 p.m.

The Golden Eagles take a two-game winning streak into Wabash County to face the Knights, who have dropped three-straight.

Both teams faced major overhauls entering the 2018-19 season after making runs to their respective state championship games in March, Southwood in Class A and Oak Hill in Class 2A.

The lone returning starter from Southwood’s Class A runner-up team is senior Dallas Holmes, who leads the Knights at better than 18 points per game. Holmes poured in 40 points in an 82-60 loss at Mississinewa on Jan. 2. Sophomore Carson Rich averages 14.2 points and junior Gabe Lloyd chips in 9.2 points for Southwood.

Senior Konnor Cabe, the lone starter to return from Oak Hill’s 2A title run, leads the Eagles at 13.3 points per game, junior Tahj Johnson is averaging 8.7 ppg while seniors Landry Ozmun and Bradey Evans each score over six points per game.

Girls basketball 

Mississinewa (10-6) at Marion (12-4), 7 p.m. (varsity only)

The Indians travel to Bill Green Arena with one distinct advantage of the Giants, depth.

Marion coach Lawrence Jordan has been relagated to playing five girls for a majority of games and rarely plays more than six unless the Giants have foul trouble or a big lead. But Jordan’s five are proving to be a very stout group led by 6-6 junior RaShaya Kyle and 6-1 senior Jazmyn Turner, both are averaging just under 17 points per game. Junior Ellie Vermilion is scoring just under 10 per game while senior Ayana Harvey (6.5 ppg) has led the Giants with 14 points in two of their last three games.

Mississienwa coach Omega Tandy regularly uses eight girls in her rotation that allows the Indians to play a high-intesity trapping defense for long portions of games. 

Ole Miss has just one double-digit scorer in junior Caily Bolser (13.1), but junior Riley McKee (9.5), seniors Ally Hewitt (8.8) and Tyler Bartel (7.5), along with sophomores Alayna Webb (6.6), Darah Watson (3.8) and freshman Mia Catey (3.6) have all shown to be capable scorers at different times this season.

Eastbrook (8-8) at Wabash (7-9), 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers visit the Apaches after winning four of the past six games, including a 62-14 win over Wes-Del on Friday.

Senior Kylie Standfest and sophomore Sarah Foulk are each scoring 15 points per game for Eastbrook.

Wabash won 61-48 over Maconaquah on Saturday after losing two games in the Wabash County tourney on Dec. 28-29.

Sophomore Mariah Wyatt leads the Apaches at 9.8 ppg while sophomore Alivia Short and senior Hope Unger are averaging nearly nine points each.

Taylor (9-7) at Madison-Grant (3-13), 7:30 p.m.

Taylor has had resurgent season led by senior Taylor Boruff, a transfer who started for defending Class 3A state champion Northwestern last season. Boruff does a lot of everything for the Titans by averaging nearly 18 points per game, more than eight rebounds and nearly five assists to go with two steals. Freshmen Kelsi Langley (12.2) and Emma Good (8.1) are secondary scoring threats for Taylor.

Juniors Blayklee Stitt and Kayla Comer along with sophomore Zoey Barnett and freshman Gracey Fox all score around five points per game for M-G.