GRANGER TWP. — Tanner Houska, Brogan Scott and Brennan Scott were money in the bank, and the Buckeye boys basketball team couldn’t stop them from cashing in again and again and again.
The Highland trio was unstoppable Friday, combining for an eye-popping 69 points in an action-packed 80-70 non-league victory.
All three players scored more than 20 points, as Houska had easily the best game of his career with 23 points, nine assists and three steals while committing just two turnovers. The 6-foot-5 Brogan Scott scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, while 6-3 Brennan Scott netted four or more points in every quarter en route to 22 points.
Most telling, the best friends scored the Hornets’ first 34 second-half points while holding off scrappy and hot-shooting Buckeye (4-3), which trailed just 61-58 early in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody needs to have a good game once in awhile to stay on track,” Houska said.
While the less-athletic Bucks forced the Scott brothers to make some highly contested shots around the paint, they had no answer for the fleet-footed 5-10 Houska.
Using pick-and-pops with Austin Adams (6 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) and Brennan Scott to get isolated on an opposing big man, the sophomore left-hander penetrated at will en route to scoring 14 first-half points. He also threw in three assists for good measure while helping hold Buckeye counterparts Ryan Grauel (15 points,
6 assists) and Cory Inman to eight points and six turnovers.
Houska saved his best for the third quarter, however, despite scoring just one free throw. He had six five assists to the Scotts, who made 18-of-33 shots and 7-of-13 free throws on the night, allowing the Hornets (6-3) to keep a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We knew we had to come out in the second half and put the game away,” Houska said. “Brogan came out and scored 19 in the second half, and Brennan played well in the post. He finished well.”
Despite its inability to get stops, Buckeye hung around admirably behind forwards Garrett Beck (16 points, 13 in second half) and Matt Cox (career-high 19 points) and center Jeff Miller (13 points, 9 rebounds), who scored the Bucks’ first nine points of the game.
Buckeye slugged its way to within 61-58 on a Miller layup off a pretty Grauel feed in traffic. The Scotts countered with an 8-3 run, but a free throw by Grauel and big bucket by Beck made it 69-64.
Luckily for the Hornets, Houska came through again and delivered the daggers, as he split the defense for a left-handed layup and got another easy bucket seconds later following a steal by Austin Casenhiser.
“Tanner played really good,” said the soft-spoken Brogan Scott, who is averaging a Medina County-best 23.0 points since returning from a sprained left ankle. “I’m really proud of him. It was the best I’ve ever seen him play.”
The first half was nothing short of a chess match, as Buckeye was forced to adjust to Highland’s high-low post game with Adams and Brennan Scott. The Bucks also were momentarily stifled by a 3-2 zone until finally getting hot with the 3-pointer.
Buckeye, which shot 28-of-56 from the floor and 9-of-20 from 3-point range, trailed by as many as nine in the first half until embarking on an 8-0 run to begin the third quarter that gave it a 40-39 lead.
Unfortunately for the Bucks, they couldn’t keep Highland’s “Money Men” from dropping dimes and taking names.
“Obviously, they were able to beat us off the dribble,” Buckeye coach Matt Saunders said. “That was a killer for us, and they got to the foul line. I’m not sure how many they shot (29), but it felt like they were there all night.
“They made more plays the last 8 minutes or so, and that’s what it takes to win.”
The benches combined for just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
For a short stretch, Highland had two sets of brothers on the floor in the Scotts and Jordan and Tyler Frederick.
Miller was Buckeye’s starting center. Ironically one of the Hornets’ scoreboard operators is named — you guessed it — Jeff Miller. They are not related.
Ed Williams had 13 points as the Hornets’ junior varsity won 66-41. Nathan Polidori had a game-high 15 for the Bucks.
Highland 80, Buckeye 70
BUCKEYE 14 18 18 20 — 70
HIGHLAND 17 22 18 23 — 80
Buckeye — Garrett Beck 6-2-16, Matt Cox 7-2-19, Jeff Miller 6-0-13, Cory Inman 1-0-2, Ryan Grauel 6-1-15, Mike Bacho 1-0-3, Curtis Kinney 1-0-2, Chris Vogt 0-0-0, John Tighe 0-0-0, Nick Prest 0-0-0. TOTALS: 28-5-70.
Highland — Brogan Scott 10-1-24, Brennan Scott 8-6-22, Austin Adams 2-2-6, Jordan Frederick 0-0-0, Tanner Houska 8-7-23, Austin Casenhiser 1-0-3, Alex Wood 0-0-0, Myles Houska 1-0-2, Tyler Frederick 0-0-0, Alec Withers 0-0-0. TOTALS: 30-16-80.
3-point goals — Cox 3, Beck 2, Grauel 2, Bacho, Miller, Bro. Scott 3, Casenhiser. Rebounds — Buckeye 31 (Miller 8), Highland 27 (Adams 9). Assists — Buckeye 13 (Grauel 6), Highland 17 (Houska 9). Records — Buckeye (4-3), Highland (6-3). Junior varsity — Highland 66, Buckeye 41.
Trio scores 69 points in victory