WADSWORTH — The Wadsworth boys basketball team made its first victory in its new gym a memorable one — and a heartbreaking loss for one of its biggest rivals.
The Grizzlies forced overtime on a banked 3-pointer at the buzzer by Austin White, then road the Broad Street-wide shoulders of center Kyle Prunty to a thrilling 78-72 Suburban League victory over Medina County rival Highland on Friday.
“It was a ton of fun,” said the 6-foot-5 Prunty, who had 33 points, 20 rebounds, two assists and a block on a night when Wadsworth’s starting front line scored 73 points. “That was amazing.”
Highland (6-4, 3-3), which has allowed 70 points in four straight games, appeared headed for victory when center Austin Adams calmly buried two free throws to put his team up 62-59 with 7.8 seconds left in regulation.
Highland coach Mike Murphy called timeout after the second make, but when play resumed the Hornets allowed White to catch the inbounds pass, dribble up the floor and get to the 3-point line, just right of the top of the key.
With the 6-7 Adams coming over to help out 6-3 Brennan Scott, who was playing with four fouls, the 6-2 White was able to split the defenders and hoist a prayer that was answered — off glass — at the buzzer.
“I definitely did not call bank,” said the sophomore, who finished with 22 points and made five 3-pointers. “I was just hoping it would go in. It was definitely lucky.
“I thought they’d trap or foul, but they didn’t, so I got down court and threw it up there.”
Murphy would not divulge the instructions he gave his players during the timeout, but made it clear they were not carried out. He added he “absolutely” felt like his team let one get away after Wadsworth (4-4, 4-2), given new life, used a 9-1 run to go up 73-67 with 44 seconds left in OT.
“It’s one of the most painful ones to let go,” Murphy said. “Our team needed a big win like this in our league. I’m sure Wadsworth did, too, but it’s a very painful loss.”
It was Prunty who applied most of the hurt. The junior used spin moves, drop steps, short baby hooks and putbacks to totally dominate inside, as he had eight points in the first period, two in the second, 10 in the third, six in the fourth and seven in overtime.
“He was unbelievable,” White said. “He’s a man. We try to get him the ball every single play. He’s a stud.”
Grizzlies coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. agreed, saying, “He was a man tonight. He showed how strong he is. He’s not 6-7 or 6-8, but he played like he was.”
In addition to Prunty and White, Wadsworth also got 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks from power forward Nathan Pound.
The three front-line players combined to score the Grizzlies’ first 52 points before reserve Anthony Palacek hit a 17-footer with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter.
Prunty, White and Pound then combined for the next 21 points before Patrick Long made two free throws and Barry Fernholz added another in the final 16 seconds of OT.
“We were getting open and our teammates were finding us,” Prunty said. “That’s what happens when you get open.”
All five Highland starters scored in double figures, as they accounted for 66 of their team’s 72 points. Small forward Brogan Scott led the way with 18, while Adams, who had 10 points in the fourth quarter and two in OT, finished with 14 to go along with nine boards and two assists.
Shooting guard Jordan Frederick made four of Highland’s six second-quarter 3-pointers en route to 13 points, while power forward Brennan Scott had 11 points and five boards and point guard Tanner Houska had 10 points, three rebounds and seven assists.
“I feel like we played pretty decent and they played pretty decent,” Murphy said. “It was probably a good game to watch.
“They’ve got some players that can score and we’ve got some players that can score. That’s what happens.”
In addition to White’s miracle 3-pointer, several factors stood out. Wadsworth owned a commanding 47-24 edge on the boards and held Highland to one trifecta in the second half after giving up seven in the first, while the Hornets were 1-for-9 at the line through three periods.
Highland regrouped to make 7-of-8 at the stripe in the fourth, but then went 4-for-7 in OT to finish the night 12-for-24. Wadsworth converted on 19-of-30, but still needed White’s three and everything it got from Prunty to improve to 1-3 in its new gym.
“I knew we had to take over then,” Prunty said of the 4-minute OT. “We beat a good team and we got our first win in this gym, so it was a good night.”
|Wadsworth cruised to a 67-48 victory in the junior varsity game behind 21 points from Joel Kipfer, 19 from Tyson Heideman and 10 from Colin Parsons. Zach Levine and Billy Kirchner had 10 apiece for Highland.|
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 78, Highland 72 (OT)
HIGHLAND 14 20 13 15 10 — 72
WADSWORTH 14 15 14 19 16 — 78
Highland — Brogan Scott 7-2-18, Brennan Scott 5-1-11, Austin Adams 5-4-14, Jordan Frederick 4-1-13, Tanner Houska 3-4-10, Coltin Kinsey 0-0-0, Austin Casenhiser 2-0-6, Alex Wood 0-0-0, Myles Houska 0-0-0, Tyler Frederick 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-12-72.
Wadsworth — Austin White 7-3-22, Nathan Pound 6-6-18, Kyle Prunty 13-7-33, Barry Fernholz 0-1-1, Patrick Long 0-2-2, Martice Jackson 0-0-0, Ryan Sheppard 0-0-0, Eric Perebzak 0-0-0, Anthony Palacek 1-0-2, Jimmy Elchlinger 0-0-0, Tony Hogan 0-0-0, Tucker Robinson 0-0-0. TOTALS: 27-19-78.
3-point goals — Frederick 4, Bro. Scott 2, Casenhiser 2, White 5. Rebounds — Highland 24 (Adams 9), Wadsworth 47 (Prunty 20). Assists — Highland 14 (Houska 7), Wadsworth 16 (Fernholz, Pound 4). Records — Highland (6-4, 3-3), Wadsworth (4-4, 4-2). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 67, Highland 48.