MACEDONIA — The third quarter has been the deciding factor in many of the Highland boys basketball team’s games this season.
The Hornets once again made the big plays following halftime to defeat two-time defending Suburban League champion Nordonia 64-56.
The first half was back and forth, but Nordonia took advantage heading into halftime when Alex Alders swiped the ball from Zach Levine and bolted down the court with 11 seconds left.
The junior guard missed the bunny, but Jordan Adams positioned himself for the putback as the buzzer sounded, giving the Knights a 24-22 lead and momentum heading into halftime.
Highland’s Tanner Houska and Nordonia’s Eli Linder were in foul trouble throughout the entire first half, as Houska had to sit out the final minutes and Linder was limited to just two points.
“It’s the same thing — their point guard, their guy that gets things going, our point guard, our guy that gets things going,” Highland coach Michael Murphy said. “I can’t say I wasn’t happy. Obviously, you take one of their better players off the floor.”
Both point guards came out firing in the third quarter, with Houska scoring the first bucket of the second half to tie the game and Linder matching him on the other end.
Houska picked up his third and fourth fouls in the third, putting him on the bench for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
With Houska on the bench, Linder went off, scoring 11 points in the second half. The Hornets won the inside game as well, with center Brogan Scott (20 points, 15 rebounds) and undersized power forward Alec Withers (19) scoring 12 and 13 points in the second half, respectively.
“It wasn’t really just those two. It was our replacements,” Murphy said. “Coltin Kinsey did a lot for us today. Kevin Greenhoe came in and got a couple steals and some big things for us.”
Despite having Houska on the bench, Highland broke the Nordonia half-court trap with easy backdoor buckets and converted fastbreak opportunities.
“Coach said we’d get a lot of easy buckets in transition,” Withers said. “With the trapping up above the half-court line, we got two-on-one, three-on-one easy layups.”
Scott and Withers led a 15-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters, as Withers knocked down 3-of-3 free throws, including one to complete a three-point play to start the run, and Scott provided inside scoring.
The Knights responded by holding Highland scoreless for the first 2:27 of the fourth quarter and going on an 8-0 run of their own.
But Houska and Scott ended the run with big buckets and Withers iced the game in the final minute by knocking down 3-of-4 free throws.
“It feels good to win after losing two in a row,” Withers said. “It’s tough when (Houska) is out because he’s doing a lot of the ballhandling up the court. We stepped up as a team.”
|Collin Levandowski nailed a half-court shot at the final buzzer, but it wasn’t enough as the Highland junior varsity fell 62-55.|
Contact Matthew Doyle at email@example.com.
Highland 64, Nordonia 56
HIGHLAND 12 10 20 22 — 64
NORDONIA 11 13 15 17 — 56
Highland — Alex Wood 0-0-0, Alec Withers 7-5-19, Brogan Scott 9-1-20, Ben Hauser 1-1-4, Tanner Houska 5-1-11, Coltin Kinsey 1-1-3, Kevin Greenhoe 3-0-7, Zach Levine 0-0-0, Tyler Frederick 0-0-0, Mason Weiss 0-0-0, Billy Kirchner 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-9-64.
Nordonia — Alex Alders 2-3-8, Max Hartman 3-0-8, Diallo Niamke 4-0-8, David Murray 5-3-14, Eli Linder 5-2-13, Billy White 0-1-1, Ryan Smith 1-0-2, Jordan Adams 1-0-2. TOTALS: 21-9-56.
3-point goals — Scott, Hauser, Greenhoe, Hartman 2, Murray, Linder, Alders. Rebounds — Highland 27 (Scott 15), Nordonia 22 (Niamke 6). Assists — Highland 17 (Houska 7), Nordonia 9 (Murray 3). Records — Nordonia (4-4, 2-3), Highland (6-3, 4-1). Junior varsity — Nordonia 62, Highland 55.