June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Highland’s loss can’t be sugarcoated


Highland's Tanner Houska passes between Nordonia's Eli Linder, left, and Nick Piotrowski during the second quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Albert Grindle

The Gazette

GRANGER TWP. — No amount of holiday sweets in the world can coat the obvious: As of Friday, the Highland boys basketball team isn’t ready to contend in the Suburban League.

Defending champion Nordonia made the game look easy. The Knights dominated in every way, shape and form and punished the Hornets right away with sticky man defense.

It was a classic scenario in which Nordonia did nearly everything right and Highland did nearly everything wrong in a 71-45 decision that stretched the Knights’ SL win streak to 19 games.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Hornets coach Mike Murphy said. “They beat us in every facet.”

Sparked a Highland turnover fest that only got worse as the first half rolled on, the Knights (6-1, 5-0) went on an 18-0 run in the first quarter and never came close to being threatened the rest of the way.

All-SL center Chris Scott (20 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists) did whatever he wanted with silky smooth midrange jumpers and bruising putbacks, while guards Eli Linder, Nick Piotrowski, Dameon Luster and Alex Alders made life miserable for Hornets point guard Tanner Houska (4 points, 9 turnovers).

Highland (4-3, 3-2) only added snow to the avalanche when it did get off a shot, as no one besides forwards Brogan Scott (20 points, 6 rebounds) and Brennan Scott (11 points, 5 rebounds) could score with any consistency.

“It’s more of a mental thing,” said Murphy, who added he felt he was outcoached by Nordonia’s Matt Cash. “When you’re down, you start thinking, ‘We’re down 14. Every individual needs to make a big play,’ and that’s the exact opposite of what you want. It’s one possession at a time.”

After taking an 18-4 lead just 6:30 into the game, Nordonia upped the ante to 44-24 at halftime. The Knights were a cool 19-of-38 from the floor, and Chris Scott was outscoring counterpart Austin Adams (7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) 12-0 until Adams hit a putback with 2:09 left in the half.

Brogan Scott did his best to keep the margin from getting ridiculous in his first game back from a sprained left ankle. The All-Gazette sophomore was highly effective around the paint, but still needed 17 field goals attempts and 12 free throw hoists to hit 20 points.

He didn’t receive any help, however, as Highland, which was without backup point guard Coltin Kinsey (family vacation), committed 25 turnovers (17 in the first half), didn’t hit a 3-pointer until 1:05 left in the third quarter was outrebounded 13-7 on the offensive glass.

The only good news for the Hornets is they play tomorrow at 1-5 Valley Forge, which stunned North Olmsted 66-45.

Highland will need to get better in a hurry, however, with Copley and Wadsworth left on the first half of the SL schedule.

“(I told my players), ‘No. 1, let’s use this as a measuring stick against what we’ve seen as the best team in the league,”’ Murphy said. “We’ve got a long ways to go both as a basketball team, and again, I take some ownership there, too.

“I still think player-wise and potential-wise we’re not that far apart. We just need to play better.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.


Kyle Callari and Chris Kunze, two starters for Highland’s 2008 SL champion football team, were among many recent alumni spotted in the crowd.l Nordonia’s junior varsity roared back from a 13-point second-half deficit to stun the Hornets 50-46. Tyler “Chuck” Frederick had 14 points for Highland.

Nordonia 71, Highland 45

NORDONIA                            18  26  15  12  —  71

HIGHLAND                                 8  16  12  9  —  45

Nordonia — Max Hartman 3-0-8, Eugene Coleman 2-0-4, Chris Scott 9-2-20, Nick Piotrowski 4-4-14, Eli Linder 3-0-6, Kenny Kitchen 0-2-2, Alex Alders 3-0-7, Diallo Niamke 0-0-0, Dameon Luster 3-0-6, David Murray 1-0-2, Denzel Ward 0-0-0, Zach Holt 1-0-2. TOTALS: 29-8-71.

Highland — Jordan Frederick 0-0-0, Brennan Scott 4-3-11, Austin Adams 3-1-7, Austin Casenhiser 1-0-3, Tanner Houska 1-2-4, Brogan Scott 7-6-20, Alex Wood 0-0-0, Myles Houska 0-0-0, Tyler Frederick 0-0-0, Alec Withers 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-12-45.

3-point goals — Hartman 2, Piotrowski 2, Alders, Casenhiser. Rebounds — Nordonia 36 (Scott 15), Highland 28 (Adams 7). Assists — Nordonia 15 (Linder 4), Highland 7 (Adams 3). Records — Nordonia (6-1, 5-0), Highland (4-3, 3-2). Junior varsity — Nordonia 50, Highland 46,

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.