June 30, 2016
By Mike Plant
Wooster Daily Record
They’ve reached a point where almost every time the Zacour brothers and their Taggart Law Firm teammates take the basketball court, they’re giving away years to their opponents.
Giving away their Dawg Days championship is another matter.
Wednesday night’s championship game was close the whole way, until Taggart Law used a 6-0 spurt in the final minutes to take control, going on to a 57-53 victory over the Hiland Alumni on the outdoor courts at Dalton’s Village Green Park.
The league finished its seventh season, and Taggart Law has won the title in all seven. Daniel Zacour, one of four brothers on the winning team, scored eight of his 24 points in the final 4:00, while Jock Rottman added four of his six in crunch time to help secure the win and another first-place trophy.
“Playing two games in a night, the championship game is usually never pretty,” said Taggart’s Paul Zacour, who backed his brother with 13 points, while Stephen Zacour scored 10.
“It’s who is going to defend and rebound, and both teams did that very well, and then it comes down to who is going to get on a little run and hit some outside shots,” he added. “We made enough outside shots in the second half to get a lead, then made enough foul shots at the end to hold on to it.”
Hiland’s roster had a handful of players from the team that won back-to-back Div. IV state championships in high school, including NCAA Div. II National Player of the Year Seger Bonifant (West Liberty graduate), Dylan Kaufman (Findlay graduate) and Jalen Miller (played at Malone), as well as West Holmes All-Ohioan Brady Arnold (West Liberty).
Miller scored his team’s first 11 points and Hiland built a 20-14 first-half lead, but Taggart scored the final eight points of the 20-minute half and took a 22-20 halftime edge on Stephen Zacour’s long 3-pointer just before time expired.
No more than three points would separate the teams in the second half. Miller’s three-point play put Hiland up 43-41, and after Daniel Zacour’s 3 regained a 48-46 lead for Taggart, Bonifant, the NCAA’s all-time 3-point leader, made his lone triple and Hiland led 49-48 with 4:00 remaining.
Rottman answered with a basket, and after Bonifant missed, Daniel Zacour’s short jumper off the glass was good for a 3-point lead. Rottman and Daniel Zacour then combined to make 7 of 8 free throws in the final 1:11 and Taggart’s streak of titles continued.
Miller led Hiland with 24 points before fouling out late, while Bonifant scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
After losing to Hiland in the first week of the season, Taggart finished with three straight wins over the former Hawks.
“We played probably our best defensive game against them,” said Bonifant, a recent graduate of West Liberty. “There was a spell in the second half where we scored on almost every single possession, but they did too. If we could have gotten stops there, we could have put them away, but we didn’t.”
“We played well enough to win, we just didn’t,” Bonifant added. “But it’s always good to reunite with these guys and play.”
Aside from the Zacours, including oldest brother David, Taggart’s roster included former Triway standouts Rottman and Josh Garrison, along with Chris Steiner and Darrell Parker.
The heart of the team, though, is the four brothers. David is now 35, followed in order by Paul (30), Daniel (29) and Stephen (28).
On the court, none of them hesitates to bark at the others about a bad shot or a lax effort on defense, but, as Paul said, “Being nice and encouraging doesn’t work for us.”
“Most people think we’re fighting, people that don’t know us see that and think ‘Oh, they’re breaking apart,’ but that’s how we communicate,” he said. “That’s how we get our point across. Then after the game, we’re not mad at each other.”
“Honestly, we do it because we want to win. We try to challenge each other. But we get along-anyone can say anything at any time, and the guys who’ve been playing with us over the years know that.”
“It’s not dysfunction,” he added with a laugh, “it’s just communication.”
Next year, more than half of the Taggart roster will be over the age of 30. The brothers know the Zacour era is coming to an end soon, especially as some of them are starting families, so the smiles may have been a little broader as they posed after the championship game with the championship trophy.
“How many more years? I don’t know,” Paul said. “We’re just glad we got one more.”
Taggart defeated CIX Direct 53-42 in Wednesday’s first semifinal, with Daniel Zacour scoring a game-high 23 points. Tom Brenner had 13 points for CIX Direct and Edwin Hunter scored 10.
Hiland reached the finals by cruising to a 96-66 win over the Flint Tropics in the other semifinal. Kaufman scored 18, Miller 17, and Bonifant 15, while Jacob Bolyard poured in 37 in a losing effort.
Dawg Days Home