Highland remains atop the Suburban League standings after a 63-57 victory at Tallmadge on Friday evening.
The Hornets (10-5, 8-2) came into the game leading Green and Tallmadge by a half-game in the conference.
Junior forward Brogan Scott got the Hornets going, scoring their first five points and grabbing their first five rebounds.
“He came out on fire,” Highland coach Michael Murphy said. “On fire meaning lots of energy. Every time we missed a shot it seemed like Brogan ended up with it.”
The Hornets used Scott’s quick start to build a 14-4 lead and led 33-28 at halftime.
The Blue Devils (9-6, 6-3) battled back early in the second half to tie the score at 38-38 before Murphy called a timeout.
Following the timeout, the Hornets went on a 15-5 run in which Scott scored seven points that changed the momentum of the game.
“I think I just calmed them down a little bit,” Murphy said. “I said, ‘Here we are. We’re on the road, we’ve got 11 minutes to play to be in first place in our league. We just need to take things one possession at a time.’ I felt like we were speeding up a little bit and kind of getting out of position. I thought that just comforted them a little bit and slowed them down.”
As the Blue Devils shifted their attention to Scott on defense, using triangle-and-two and box-and-one defensive fronts to contain him, junior Kevin Greenhoe came off the bench to score eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Hornets pull away.
Murphy described Greenhoe’s fourth-quarter performance as “the difference between a W and an L.”
The Blue Devils were led by junior forward Andrew Francesconi with 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block.
Francesconi did the majority of his damage in the first half, scoring 17 points and making all 12 of his free-throw attempts.
The Hornets made adjustments to their defensive scheme against Francesconi, though, and he got to the line only twice in the second half, converting them both but being held to just eight points.
“They did a good job of guarding and not fouling,” Tallmadge coach Mike Bluey said. “Their rotations were a lot cleaner in the second half. It was just a minor adjustment for them but they did a good job of making it.”
The Blue Devils struggled putting the ball in the basket, converting just 14-of-44 attempts from within the paint. They also had several open looks for 3-pointers where the rim was not friendly and the ball appeared to go in and out.
“It’s a challenge to your mental toughness,” Bluey said. “Just being able to battle that emotion of being let down when you miss a shot you should make and then get back and guard on defense.”
Scott finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Junior point guard Tanner Houska led the Hornets in scoring with 18 points, adding five assists and four rebounds.
Nate Bickar made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to cut the Tallmadge deficit to four points after being behind by 11 in the quarter. He finished with 13 points.
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