GRANGER TWP. — After each timeout in the waning minutes of the Highland boys basketball team’s game against Wadsworth, the Hornets’ Brennan Scott looked each of his teammates in the eye and passionately asked, “How bad you want this?”
As it turned out, the fiery senior played out the answer.
The 6-foot-3 power forward made four straight free throws and grabbed a rebound in the final 40 seconds, helping Highland hold on for an ugly 40-32 Suburban League victory.
The Hornets (12-8, 8-5) clinched their first winning season since 2004-05.
“We just had to keep reminding ourselves how bad we wanted it,” Scott said as his teammates held an impromptu dance party in the locker room. “That’s all we’ve been talking about all week — Wadsworth week — and how badly we’ve wanted it.”
Scott’s heroics capped a grueling second half in which the teams combined to shoot 7-of-36 from the floor. Wadsworth (10-10, 9-4) failed to make a field goal in the fourth quarter, when it also committed five of its eight turnovers, and had no answer for the Hornets’ triangle-and-two defense that zeroed in on Austin White (game-high 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting) and Patrick Long (2 on 1-of-6).
For all its defensive efforts, Highland didn’t capitalize at the other end with 4-of-19 shooting in the second half, but still held a 35-32 lead after the Grizzlies’ Anthony Palecek split free throws with 1:03 left.
Twenty-four seconds later, Scott, who spent 30 minutes shooting free throws after practice Thursday, began his dramatics.
The senior calmly sank both ends of a one-and-one to make it 37-32. He then rebounded a missed White 3-pointer — it was Scott’s fourth board of the quarter — and gave himself a chance to effectively seal the deal with 29.2 ticks remaining.
Scott (11 points, 10 rebounds) stepped to the stripe for another one-and-one. He dribbled a few times, rested the ball on his stomach and took a deep breath, and two nothing-but-net tosses sent the student section into the popular “I believe that we have won” chant.
It was a proud moment for No. 23, who was cut from the seventh-grade team.
“It feels great,” Scott said. “It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. The senior class wasn’t the most talented at the beginning (in middle school), but we’ve really stepped it up.”
Sophomore forward Brogan Scott led the Hornets with 13 points, including four straight that gave them the lead for good in the third quarter, while senior guard Austin Casenhiser added eight points after cutting the inside of his mouth early on.
Momentum swung Highland’s way just before halftime when it went on a 5-0 run without Wadsworth touching the ball. Brennan Scott sank two intentional-foul free throws and was fouled while attempting to put back his own brick on the ensuing possession. A technical foul on White promptly followed, and Scott and Casenhiser made 3-of-4 free throws to make it 25-18 at the break.
Wadsworth rallied, however, as White came out on fire with six straight points that were highlighted by a four-point play. Kyle Prunty (11 points, 14 rebounds) followed with two free throws thanks to a technical on Highland’s Austin Adams, and another freebie by White put the Grizzlies up 30-29.
Unfortunately for Wadsworth, its last field goal was a stick-back by the 5-10 Long early in the third quarter.
“Credit Highland because they didn’t give us many easy shots,” Grizzlies coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said. “I think that had a lot to do with our shooting on the evening (10-of-41), which percentage-wise wasn’t where we normally are. That’s because of great defense. They took us out of what we wanted to do.”
|Highland honored its Division I state runner-up girls golf team at halftime. A banner on the gymnasium’s north wall was unveiled as well.
l With the addition of the girls golf state runner-up banner alongside state titles for 1975 wrestling, 1980 volleyball and 1981 wrestling teams, a banner for the 1980 Class AA runner-up wrestling squad was noticeably absent.
l Kevin Greenhoe scored a career-high 21 points and Zach Levine added 17 as the Hornets won the junior varsity game 64-51. Joel Kipfer had 20 points for Wadsworth.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highland 40, Wadsworth 32
WADSWORTH 6 12 12 2 — 32
HIGHLAND 9 16 8 7 — 40
Wadsworth — Austin White 4-2-13, Kyle Prunty 3-5-11, Nathan Pound 0-1-1, Barry Fernholz 1-0-2, Patrick Long 1-0-2, Anthony Palecek 1-1-3, Tucker Robinson 0-0-0, Martice Jackson 0-0-0, Ryan Sheppard 0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-9-32.
Highland — Jordan Frederick 0-0-0, Brennan Scott 2-7-11, Austin Adams 0-0-0, Austin Casenhiser 2-2-8, Tanner Houska 2-2-6, Brogan Scott 5-1-13, Alex Wood 0-0-0, Coltin Kinsey 1-0-2, Myles Houska 0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-12-40.
3-point goals — White 3, Casenhiser 2, Bro. Scott 2. Rebounds — Wadsworth 28 (Prunty 14), Highland 24 (Bre. Scott 10). Assists — Wadsworth 5 (Fernholz, Palecek 2), Highland 5 (T. Houska 3). Records — Wadsworth (10-10, 9-4), Highland (12-8, 8-5). Junior varsity — Highland 64, Wadsworth 51.