June 27, 2013
By Andrew Vogel
Wooster Daily Record
Taggart Law Firm has restored order in the Dawg Days Summer League by again proving it's the best team on the court.
Two weeks ago, TLF had suffered its first league loss in more than three summers as it fell to Hiland Alumni 63-59, but the lawyers again proved their point with a 61-47 victory in Wednesday's championship at Village Green Park. During the four years of the Dawg Days League, TLF has won the title each year and now has a record of 36-1 since 2010, finishing the season with an 8-1 ledger.
With four crowns in four years, Taggart's annual championship feels like as much of a local summer tradition as Orrville's Fourth of July festival. Paul Zacour, however, insists that his three brothers, Daniel, Stephen and David, and the rest of the team never assume they can cruise east on US 30 and pick up the trophy.
"Even though we've won it, every year's new," said Paul, the 6-foot-4 defensive stopper. "We just want to show up and perform well."
Midway through the championship, Taggart's fourth title was anything but an open-and-shut case. After staking out a 17-5 lead in the opening minutes, Hiland (8-1), which beat 79 Entertainment (4-4) 75-70 in Wednesday's earlier semifinal, cut the deficit to 32-24 at halftime thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Colten Hostetler right before intermission. Early in the second half, Hiland took its first lead of the game when Matt Beachy sank two free throws as the Hawk alums took a 41-39 advantage.
From there, though, TLF, which got past Lights Out (6-2) 54-43 in the other semi, showcased its trademark defense, which has been its calling card every summer. Taggart reeled off a 13-0 run thanks to field goals from Paul Zacour, Stephen Zacour, Daniel Zacour and Josh Garrison to take a 52-41 edge. During that stretch, Daniel Zacour had seven of his game-high 22 points and that proved to be more than enough of a cushion for TLF's stingy defense, as it led by double digits for the rest of the night.
"Everything we do is predicated on defense," said Stephen. "We feel we can just wear teams down if we can force tough shots and run."
Paul, who had two points but made his presence felt on defense all night, said his squad had to simply grind it out until it mustered a couple timely buckets late in the game.
"We hang our hat on defense and rebounding," he said. "We didn't shoot the ball well or finish well, but if we rebound and defend the ball, we're going to be in any game."
Hiland point guard Jason Mishler, who single-handedly lifted his squad past 79 Entertainment in the opener with 38 points and eight 3-pointers, said TLF's defense forced the Hawks into an offensive drought and they couldn't answer on the other end.
"We should've gone inside more to Neil (Gingerich), but we settled for outside jumpers that went in and out," he said. "You can't be one-dimensional against them."
Mishler said the reason TLF is so consistent is because it focuses on fundamentals rather than flash.
"They don't do anything spectacular," he added, "but they just play the game as a whole really well. We can deal with spectacular plays, but it wears you down to deal with just good, consistent basketball."
Stephen said he and his brothers started playing in the Triway League, then joined Dawg Days director Morgan Wenger when he formed a league in Dalton.
"It's a lot of fun playing with my three older brothers," he said. "When Morgan started his own league, it was a no-brainer--we wanted to support him."
"There are a lot of good players," he added, "and it's marked on our calendar every June. We're ready for it."
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