ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Boylan Titans remain a mystery the Hononegah girls basketball team can not solve.
Thursday night, the Titans once again out-banged the Indians with their physical style and finished the showdown between two state-ranked teams with a 66-59 victory.
The Indians, who entered the game ranked ninth in the latest AP IHSA Class 4A poll, dropped to 18-4 on the season after losing for the first time in NIC-10 play.
The Titans, the state's sixth-ranked team, remained unbeaten on the season at 18-0 behind an outstanding game from junior forward Peyton Kennedy, who scored 17 of her 28 points in the first half.
Boylan converted a slew of second-chance opportunities, bodied up Hononegah star Jordan King all evening and never trailed after falling behind 5-0.
"The offensive rebounds, that 's the part we have to get fixed," Hononegah coach Randy Weibel said. "Whether it's a scheme issue or a toughness issue, we have to fix it."
The game started in ideal fashion for the Indians...at least in the first 60 seconds. Hannah Malcomson drained a trey on the game's first possession. Alison Murdoch converted a layup shortly thereafter, briefly silencing the partisan Titan crowd.
That's when Kennedy and her teammates went to work, as the Titans went on a 17-2 run.
The remainder of the game featured the Indians in catch-up mode. Hononegah trailed 19-12 after the first quarter, whittled the lead down to 30-25 at halftime despite just three points from King.
The third quarter spelled the difference in the game, with Hononegah cutting the lead to 32-29 before the Titans went on a 15-6 run to go back up 12. They held a comfortable 51-40 lead heading into the final period.
King heated up, and the Indians had one final realistic gasp at getting back in the game. Down six with 1:06 to play, Hononegah junior Rylie Martinetti's 3-pointer from the right wing fell just short. When the Titans converted their free throws down the stretch, it spelled the Titans' fifth straight win over the Indians spanning the past three seasons.
King scored 22 points in the second half to finish with 25, and in the process became the NIC-10's all-time leading scorer, besting former Indian and Titan Brea Edwards' mark.
"I thought the tempo was where we wanted it, but they were just more physical than we were on defense," Weibel said. "We got bumped and we couldn't make a shot. That's something we have to play through. The officials were consistent the entire game with the way they called the game. We can't fault anybody but ourselves. We'll take a look at our scheme and try to get our kids the best chance we can to score."
King said the physical pounding she took was unlike any other she's faced in her career. She got to the foul line 13 times (making seven) and was on the ground several more times without the benefit of a whistle.
"There was a lot more physicality than I've seen in the last couple of games," King said. "And I've seen a lot of it. It started to get out of hand, but I just have to know it's coming and mentally push through it."
• UP NEXT: The Indians will get another chance at the Titans on Feb. 5. Before that, they will take on Belvidere North, a team they just blew out Tuesday, on Saturday night.
• BOXSCORE: BOYLAN 66, HONONEGAH 59
Hononegah: Burns 2 3-4 7, Malcomson 2 2-2 8, Schmitz 0 6-6 6, King 8 7-13 25, Murdoch 4 2-2 10, Kershner 1 0-0 3. Totals: 17 20-27 59.
Boylan: Schiro 1 0-3 3, Daily 2 0-0 5, Bishop 6 0-1 12, Ulrich 1 0- 2, Reyes 1 6-8 9, Eshelman 3 0-0 7, Kennedy 10 7-12 28. Totals: 24 13-26 66.
Hononegah 12 13 15 19- 59
Boylan 19 11 21 15- 66
3-pointers: Hononegah 5: Malcomson 2, King 2, Kershner. Boylan 5: Schiro, Reyes, Eshelman, Kennedy, Daily. Total fouls: Boylan 17, Hononegah 18.