AURORA — The Highland boys basketball team knocked down a 3-pointer on its first possession Friday night at Aurora. For the next 30 minutes, the Hornets never trailed.
Yet Aurora hung around and hung around, then finally got the lead with 1:52 left in the Suburban League American Division game and held on to beat Highland 65-61.
“At some point when you turn the ball over …” Highland coach Adam Cestaro said after his squad committed 19 turnovers in the game. “Their pressure was good and they played hard, and they caused us into a bunch of turnovers. And that stole the momentum from us. We never got it back.”
The Hornets (4-3, 1-2) led by nine points at halftime and by seven after the third quarter. But after a pair of transition layups by Bryce Proffitt (19 points) in the fourth pushed the lead to 57-49, the offense went silent.
Aurora (5-1, 3-1) closed on a 16-4 run, including a 10-2 edge in the final four minutes. Junior guard Ethan Hays led the way for the Greenmen with 22 points, but had just two points in the 10-2 run, as Aurora got buckets from five players down the stretch.
Early on, Highland was humming thanks to senior guard Cole Tessena. He hit on 4-of-6 3-pointers in the first half, including three of his first four, and finished with 14 points.
“We like to attack pressure,” Cestaro said. “He can really shoot it, and we like finding him in transition.”
Once Tessena was spotting up and drawing attention, driving lanes opened for Proffitt, who scored 10 points in the second quarter.
“Those guys feed off each other,” Cestaro said.
Alex Jaworski also found room in the lane, finishing with 10 points and game highs of 10 rebounds and five assists. He buried a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to give the Hornets their biggest lead of the game, 34-25.
The Greemen used a 9-2 run to start the second half to pull within two points. After a Jawowski transition layup pushed the lead back to nine at 53-44, Aurora scored the final two points of the third quarter and netted a 3-pointer to start the fourth to claw back within four.
“We made it too easy tonight and lost our defensive composure,” Cestaro said.
Aurora won the junior varsity game 64-48. Griffin Albright led the Hornets with 11 points and Carson Levandowski added nine.
Aurora 65, Highland 61
HIGHLAND 15 19 19 8 — 61
AURORA 13 12 21 19 — 65
Highland — Bryce Proffitt 9-1-19, Alex Jaworski 2-5-10, Ryan Chema 5-0-11, Cole Tessena 5-0-14, Jake Osborne 1-0-3, Tommy Williams 1-0-2, Connor Klein 0-0-0, Rob Huttner 1-0-1. TOTALS: 24-6-61.
Aurora — Cooper Bizjak 3-0-6, Ethan Hays 7-7-22, Gabriel Elsawy 5-0-13, Justin Gentile 4-0-8, Jack Arnold 2-0-4, Jack Fecko 2-0-4, Lucas Miller 2-0-4, Jacob Elliott 0-0-0, Mason Bizjak 2-0-4. TOTALS: 27-7-65.
3-point goals — Tessena 4, Jaworski, Chema, Osborne; Elsawy 3, Hays. Rebounds — Highland 30 (Jaworski 10), Aurora 32 (Arnold 8). Assists — Highland 12 (Jaworski 5), Aurora 9 (Elsawy 4). Records — Highland (4-3, 1-2), Aurora (5-1, 3-1). Junior varsity — Aurora 64, Highland 48.