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Taylor's leaner gives Regents dramatic victory

Saturday, January 03, 2009   (0 Comments)
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Posted January 3, 2009 @ 9:37 p.m.
ROCKFORD — Even though senior guard Rennell Taylor had made just three of his 12 shots versus Ripon on Saturday, Rockford College head coach Ryan Rebsom never hesitated to call his number when drawing up a play with under 30 seconds left in the tie game.
“Rennell is our go-to guy in those kinds of situations — period,” Rebsom said after Taylor’s running jumper swished through to hand the Regents a 75-73 home win. “We’ve been in these kinds of situations all year, but in that huddle I told the guys this was our time. This was our time.”
Taylor’s double-clutch leaner fell through the net with just under six seconds remaining, and solid defense kept the Red Hawks from getting a good look the rest of the way. Rockford pulled off its first close victory of the season, and Taylor believes this one will go a long ways in raising the teams’ confidence level for the stretch run.
“This was a big game; this was huge. It will really help the whole team when we have another close game, expecially late in the year. Now we know we can close it out,” said Taylor, who finished with 10 points and six assists. “Before the break, we just couldn’t get over that hump. But we’ve regrouped, we have a different outlook now, and we believe we can’t lose these kinds of games.”
Before the holidays, Rockford (6-6) had suffered one defeat by two points, another by three, two more by five and had absorbed a 7-point loss in overtime. Their five previous victories had come by an average of 10 points.
On Saturday, it was apparent early on that both teams were in for a “dog fight,” as Rebsom put it. There were 15 lead changes in the back-and-forth first half, but Ripon carried a 4-point lead into the break. Out of halftime, the Regents found their stroke early, building a 6-point lead when former Boylan standout Andrew Weber’s wrap-around pass to Garrett Staniec netted an easy layup.
After Ripon (4-4) battled back with an 8-2 run, the Regents found themselves down two with just over a minute left. Another Weber assist to Staniec tied the game up at 73-all with 58 seconds to go, and a missed 3-pointer from Ripon gave Taylor a chance to be the game’s hero.
“I don’t know how Rennell even got that shot off,” said Weber, the 6-foot-2 junior guard who came up big with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists while playing all 40 minutes. “It’s such a tough shot, but he makes those everyday in practice, so none of us were very surprised.
And finally we got one to go our way.”
Weber did a lot of his damage on the baseline and in the paint, helping his team overcome a poor-shooting (35 percent from the field) first half and an overall rebounding disadvantage (35-34). Led by Taylor Stinson’s 3-for-7 effort from long range, the Regents sank twice as many 3-pointers (6-of-19) as the Red Hawks as well.
Rockford will be back in action — and will get back to Northern Athletics Conference play — next Saturday when they head to River Forest to take on Concordia University (Chicago).

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