Shawe’s Taylor Rhoten (25) battles a shot up inside over Milan’s Logan Karsteter. Rhoten scored 18 points for Shawe while Karsteter led all scorers with 25. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Shawe’s Taylor Rhoten (25) battles a shot up inside over Milan’s Logan Karsteter. Rhoten scored 18 points for Shawe while Karsteter led all scorers with 25. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Riding the emotion of a senior night for nine players in the Hilltoppers' first game without injured senior guard Luke Higgins, Shawe Memorial battled conference rival Milan through 10 ties and 16 lead changes before stumbling in the stretch while falling 64-58 in Madison.

Milan outscored the Hilltoppers 23-11 in the fourth quarter to spoil Shawe's senior night and escape Meny Gymnasium with a six point win just minutes after it looked like the Hilltoppers were going to close out the regular season with a big win.

The teams, tied 18-18 after one quarter and 35-35 at halftime, had battled bucket-to-bucket through seven ties and 12 lead changes over the first 20 minutes of the game.

With Higgins, who strained a knee in the Hilltoppers' 55-48 win over Rock Creek Academy on Friday, cheering from the sideline, Shawe finally started to carve out some breathing room late in the third quarter.

Tied 39-39 with 5:13 left in the period, the Hilltoppers used a momentum seizing mini-run to eventually pull ahead 47-41 on a bucket inside and a free throw by senior forward Taylor Rhoten with 45 seconds left in the third period.

Rhoten, who had battled through a lot of contact inside all night, fought through hard contact to made the basket and give Shawe its biggest lead of the game. Whether it was the emotion of the night or the euphoria of the moment, the 6-foot-3 senior let out a yell that fired up the Shawe home crowd but irked one of the officials who whistled him for a technical foul for celebrating.

The 3-point play and rare technical foul ended up being both the highlight and the beginning of the downfall for the Hilltoppers. Rhoten hit the free throw to put Shawe up 47-41 while Milan's Logan Alloway made only the second of the two free throws on the technical.

But with play stopped several minutes to sort through the aftermath of the exchange and shoot the foul shots, Milan had plenty of time to regroup from the big Shawe run while the Hilltoppers' hard-fought momentum cooled during the delay and Shawe was never the same afterwards.

"You know what stopped that run?" Shawe coach Matt Traylor asked rhetorically. "When was the technical?"

Milan failed to score on the final possession of the third quarter but down 53-52 midway through the fourth quarter when Alloway sandwiched back-to-back 3-pointers around a free throw by Joey Mingione. Shawe answered with a 3-pointer by David Grote with 3:04 left and the game was tied 55-55 on free throws by Alloway before Alloway scored again with 2:18 left to give the Indians the lead for good.

Traylor refused to blame the judgment call technical foul for celebrating on the Hilltoppers' demise but agreed that it came at a time when Shawe had finally carved out some momentum in a very even game.

Traylor instead said Shawe simply failed to make as many plays as the Indians down the stretch.

"We didn't defend very well," Traylor said. " I think we gave up 18 in the first quarter and 22 in the fourth. They made some tough shots - some tough shots when I thought we defended them well - and then we gave them some opportunities when we had some lapses mentally. There were a few times when we didn't get out on a screen and they made 3's and a few offensive rebounds that we gave up late, too.

"I don't know that we played that bad, but I don't think we made enough plays," Traylor added. "They made some plays down the stretch and we didn't make enough plays. We didn't have one or two guys that put everybody on their back and said 'I'm going to go get a rebound' or 'I'm going to go get a score' and that cost us in the second half."

Shawe did have several players who stepped up offensively in the absence of Higgins, the team's leading scorer at 12 points per game.

Senior guard David Grote turned in his second straight big offensive game with 20 points against Milan to go with the career-best 30 he scored against Rock Creek on Friday. Rhoten battled his way to 18 points inside and Mingione added 10 while running the team from the point.

"With Luke out we were forced to slide some guys into other positions and they responded well," Traylor said. "I was really pleased to see David playing so aggressive on offense and Taylor had a big game inside for us."

In fact, Traylor would like to see both players continue that aggressive play when Higgins returns to the lineup for the postseason next week.

"Luke's got a strain but nothing's torn," Traylor said. "He will be back next week but we decided to rest him now so that we could have him ready for the sectional next week."

Milan got a game-high 25 points from junior forward Logan Karsteter to go with 14 each by guards Alloway and Cooper Wade.

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TUESDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Madison

MILAN 64, SHAWE 58



MILAN 18 17 7 22 - 64

SHAWE 18 17 12 11 - 58



MILAN (9-10, 4-2 ORVC) - (f)Karsteter 25, (g)Alloway 14, (g)Wade 14, (g)Detraz 5, (f)Mays 2, Spurlock 2, Butte 2, Bixler 0, Baker 0.

SHAWE (8-12, 3-3 ORVC) - (g)Grote 20, (f)T. Rhoten 18, (g)Mingione 10, (f)Ball 4, Rios 2, Fry 2, Reuss 2, (g)Daugherty 0, Jines 0, G. Rhoten 0, Koehler 0, Higgins 0.



3-Point Goals - Milan 8 (Wade 4, Alloway 3, Detraz 1), Shawe 2 (Grote 2). Free Throws - Milan 14-23 (61%), Shawe 16-28 (57%). Total Fouls - Milan 20, Shawe 17. Fouled Out - None. Technical Fouls - MIlan: None, Shawe: Rhoten. Next Game - Milan hosts Union Co. Friday, Shawe plays Oldenburg Academy at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the opening round of Sectional 60 tourney at South Decatur.