Indians' defense makes difference
Wayne City holds on for 46-38 non-conference win over NCOE
McKinney, Taylor, Dickey lead balanced attack
NORRIS CITY - The Wayne City Indians picked up an important road win on Tuesday night as they traveled to Norris City-Omaha-Enfield to snag a 46-38 triumph.

On a night when they offense wasn't exactly pretty, the Indians' defense stood out like a “lime green road worker's vest” as the club improved to 9-5 on the season.

Interim head coach Jake Talbert picked up his first career win as he is subbing for head coach Jim Corona who suffered a heart attack last Wednesday and isn't expected back until next week.

While Wayne City didn't get much done on the offensive end, they brought the “lunch pails” on defense as their work eventually got them a road victory.

They held Coach Jim Tucker's club to just 14-of-44 shooting as NCOE fell to 10-5 overall.

“On Melton, Kaiden Taylor did a great job, Clark Anderson (senior reserve forward) did a great job when he came off of the bench and Durham, when we switch off on their screens, also did a great job,” said Coach Talbert, a former Wayne City player turned AD and coach. “We put ball pressure on them, that is what we preach. We made their (NCOE) passes difficult, especially passes into the post.”

Offensively the Indians were led by the trio that normally factor in on the success of the squad.

Sophomore guard Taj McKinney topped the effort with 18 points while 6-foot-4 senior Kaiden Taylor added 14.

Senior guard Travis Dickey nailed down three 3-pointers and finished with nine points on the night.

On most nights the offensive efficiency of the Indians, or the lack of, might have resulted in a loss.

The Tribe were just 14-of-35 overall and just 4-of-12 from the arc.

However the defensive effort, especially on 6-foot-6 junior Joe Melton, proved to be a difference maker in the win.

Melton earned all 11 of his points in the game as Taylor and seniors Marcus Durham and Kent Miller, helped blanket the Fighting Cardinals' center for most of the contest.

Five-foot-nine junior Ty Money collected 15 points for NCOE in the loss while senior Trey Simmons added five.

Wayne City had defeated NCOE, 78-50 in a game at the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament back on November 26th but this contest was much closer in all aspects.

“The first thing I want to say is 'Coach Corona, I hope you get better and your kids played a fantastic game' and Wayne City has been known for their intensity. That group of seniors and that sophomore (McKinney), that is an awesome group,” said Coach Tucker. “We are excited that we showed improvement from the first game at the Christopher Tournament.”

After the Indians got an early 8-3 lead, thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Dickey, NCOE rallied.

Baskets by Melton, off of a rebound, Money on a fast break and a drive for a reverse lay in by Simmons closed the gap to 8-7 at the end of a low scoring first quarter.

The second quarter featured six lead changes as the two teams battled with Wayne City eventually holding a 17-16 halftime advantage.

McKinney scored twice in transition off of Cardinals' turnovers while Taylor added points in the lane.

Money also added four points in the frame but the quarter had more to do with two teams struggling offensively as Wayne City committed seven turnovers and NCOE was just 3-of-10 from the floor.

The Indians appeared headed to a blow out win in the third quarter as they put their best offense foot forward.

After a Money basket cut Wayne City's lead to just 20-18 with 6:48 left, the Indians outscored the hosts' 14-5 to lead 34-23 at the end of the third.

The Indians showed what they are capable of offensively in this stretch as the committed just one turnover in the eight minutes.

McKinney scored seven of the points on a steal for a fast break, a 3-pointer and a drive to the basket off of an offensive rebound by Dickey and a subsequent assist from Taylor.

Taylor also scored off a great assist from Durham.

Durham drove the baseline and then found Taylor open in the paint for an easy bucket and a 33-22 lead with 1:03 left.

Simmons and Wayne City's Noah Cooper exchanged 1-of-2 free throws each as the Tribe entered the final frame up 11.

NCOE made a quick run at the beginning of the final quarter to get close.

The Cardinals scored the first six points in the quarter with Money scoring twice and Melton adding two free throws.

Money give himself an assist as he bounced and inbounds pass off of a Wayne City player and scored on a lay up on one possession.

He then added two fast break scores, with one coming after taking a long defensive rebound.

After two made free throws by Melton, NCOE trailed just 34-29.

Later in the quarter the hosts looked like they were on the verge of a comeback victory following consecutive 3-pointers from Money and freshman reserve Preston Long.

Long's long range bomb from the left corner, on an assist from Melton, cut the Indians' lead to just 39-37.

Wayne City, however, responded with a nice drive to the basket by McKinney for a reverse lay in.

Then the visitors closed the door defensively by forcing the Cardinals to miss their next four field goal attempts.

Coach Talbert saw his squad end the game with 5-of-6 made free throws in the final :29.5.

The Indians ended up with a 26-23 rebounding edge and they survived their 14 turnovers, many of which were self inflected unforced errors.

Both teams have a lot of work to do as they each head back to action this week.

Wayne City will travel to Patoka on Friday night and they then have games next week at home against Gallatin County on January 14th and on the road at ABV top ten 1A squad North Clay on January 18th.

The Cardinals have home games against Hamilton County on Saturday along with games next week a home against Greater Egyptian Conference foes Pope County and Carrier Mills-Stonefort.

“I'm just filling in for Coach Corona until he gets back,” said Coach Talbert. “But we have to learn what not to do when we are holding on to a lead.”

Wayne City
Norris City-Omaha-Enfield

Wayne City (46) – Pottorff 0 0 0-0 0, White 0 0 0-0 0, Taylor 4 0 6-9 14, McKinney 6 1 3-5 18, Duwez 0 0 2-2 2, Anderson 0 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0 2-2 2, Cooper 0 0 1-2 1, Lewis 0 0 0-0 0, Durham 0 0 0-0 0, Dickey 0 3 0-0 9.
2FG-10, 3FG-4, FT-14-20, PF-14.

Norris City-Omaha-Enfield (38) – Tucker 0 0 0-0 0, Long 0 1 0-0 3, Brown 1 0 0-2 2, Money 5 1 2-6 15, Richardson 1 0 0-0 2, Simmons 1 0 3-6 5, Richerson 0 0 0-0 0, Melton 4 0 3-4 11.
2FG-12, 3FG-2, FT-8-18, PF-13.

Fouled Out – Miller - Wayne City; Money - Norris City-Omaha-Enfield.
Technical Fouls – None.