By Chad Grant
AKRON — The Ellet boys basketball team had a surprise for Highland in a late-season, non-league matchup.
The Orangemen came out chucking — and hitting — while building an early lead, but the Hornets eventually regained their composure and pulled away for a 63-53 win Tuesday.
Highland (13-8) came into the game unsure what Ellet (5-16) would be like, but found out in a hurry. The Orangemen bombed away from behind the 3-point arc and built an 11-2 lead just 2:20 into the game.
“We just missed a ton of shots and they made so many threes,” Highland coach Michael Murphy said. “That kind of took it out of us and it was an ugly first half. We battled and stayed close even though we didn’t make any shots. We did what we needed to do, though.”
Christian Bolling knocked down two deep balls and Jake Lambert buried another to build the lead, but once the Hornets settled in, things began swinging back their way.
Ellet only made one more 3-pointer the rest of the game as the Hornets defense adjusted.
“It took a little while to get used to them,” Highland forward Brennan Scott said. ““They had some shooters and we weren’t sure whether to play up on them or sit back a little bit. In the second half we got up on them and ran some presses and forced some turnovers.”
Scott (23 points, 7 rebounds) led the way for the Hornets, scoring 19 points over the final three frames.
“He is just so active,” Murphy said. “They had a tough time with his athleticism. He was moving at light speed compared to some of their big people. He’s a senior — unfortunately, he’s a senior — but I think he is treasuring each one of these games like a senior should.”
The 6-foot-3 forward got down and dirty in the paint after getting whacked around and not getting any whistles early.
“I was one of the bigger kids,” Scott said. “They were pretty small. … I would miss and think I would get fouled and wouldn’t get the call. It motivated me and I kept going to the rim and I started getting the foul call or making the basket.”
The physical play also got Austin Adams (12 points, 8 rebounds) motivated as well. The 6-6 Adams struggled early with a pair of turnovers, but muscled up eight points and six rebounds in the second half.
Tanner Houska chipped in 11 points — nine in the second half — and was money from the free throw line as usual. The junior banged home 7-of-8 in the final two quarters.
Jake Williams was a force inside for the Orangemen, leading his team with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
A trio of double-digit scorers led the junior varsity Hornets to a 72-60 win. Zach Levine had a team-high 18, while Kevin Greenhoe and Ben Hauser had 14 and 13, respectively.
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.