WOOSTER — The Highland boys basketball team was tested and pressured in every way imaginable in front of a hostile crowd at Wooster High School.
In the end, clutch shooting and defense carried the Hornets to a 66-63 overtime win Friday in a non-league battle.
“We can battle through any adversity possible,” Highland junior Bryce Profitt said. “It’s packed and they’re yelling at us. We battled through, went into overtime, we were down and came back. We can get through anything together.”
After a Highland (3-2) turnover, Generals (1-2) center Jette Morgan broke down the court and made a layup to put Wooster ahead 56-53 with just 25 seconds left in regulation. Morgan scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in the loss.
The Hornets worked the ball around the perimeter and eventually found post Alex Jaworski on the right side of the arc. The junior beat the buzzer for his fourth 3-pointer of the second half to force overtime.
“I just trusted my shot,” said Jaworski, who had a game-high 23 points. “I mean, it was wide open and I just hit it.”
Highland was down again after the Generals got a basket by junior forward Ezra McKee (11 points) and senior wing Lonnie Harper split a pair of free throws to put Wooster up 59-56 one minute into the extra session.
On the Hornets’ next possession, center Ryan Chema (11 points) drove to the bucket and cut the deficit to one.
After Generals star point guard Dylan Dagley hit a jumper to put his team back up by three, Jaworski rescued Highland again, this time with his game-high fifth 3-pointer to tie the game 61-61 with just under two minutes left in overtime.
“He’s pretty good off his pivot around the rim and then he can step out and shoot the three, and that makes him really dangerous,” Highland coach Adam Cestaro said. “We love his versatility, and he can guard a ton of positions.”
Jaworski then found shooting guard Cole Tessena open on the wing, where he hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give the Hornets a lead they did not relinquish.
With 40 seconds left, Morgan scored again to make the score 64-63 in favor of Highland. Tessena then missed the front end of a one-and-one foul shots, but Dagley (14 points) did the same at the other end.
Profitt (16 points) then stepped to the foul line in the bonus and nailed both of his free throws to put the Hornets ahead 66-63 with 18 seconds left.
“I’ve been missing free throws lately and at practice we’ve been shooting a lot more,” Profitt said. “I got to the line with the crowd screaming, but I just blocked them out.”
Dagley raced down the court for one last chance, but his 3-point heave came up short of the rim and Profitt was under the basket to gather the rebound.
“The kids on the floor never panicked,” Cestaro said. “We’re big on staying focused no matter what the score is. We just want to execute and do the things that we do. They did that tonight and that’s a credit to them being unflappable.”
Contact John Urchek at email@example.com.
Highland 66, Wooster 63 (OT)
HIGHLAND 15 11 19 11 10 — 66
WOOSTER 18 6 16 16 7 — 63
Highland — Bryce Profitt 5-5-16, Ryan Chema 4-3-11, Alex Jaworski 9-0-23, Cole Tessena 4-0-11, Jacob Osborne 1-0-3, Thomas Williams 1-0-2, Robert Huttner 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-8-66.
Wooster — Lonnie Harper 2-3-7, Ezra McKee 5-1-11, Jette Morgan 8-0-16, Reece Mitchell 3-0-7, Dylan Dagley 6-0-14, Kristian Scalf 3-0-8, Micah McKee 0-0-0. TOTALS: 27-4-63.
3-point goals — Jaworski 5, Tessena 3, Osborne, Profitt, Dagley 2, Scalf 2, Mitchell. Rebounds — Wooster 36 (Morgan 12), Highland 24 (Chema 7). Assists — Highland 13 (Jaworski 4), Wooster 8 (Dagley 4). Records — Highland (3-2), Wooster (1-2). Junior varsity — Wooster 56, Highland 43.