TALLMADGE — Coming off a rough winter break stretch that featured a three-game losing streak, the Highland boys basketball team battled back to defeat one of the top teams in the Suburban League American Conference.
Behind leadership and 48 combined points from wings Cole Tessena and Bryce Profitt, Highland edged Tallmadge 70-66 Tuesday night.
“It feels really good because it was also a league win,” said Profitt, who had 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists. “We went on the road and we knew we had to come together after a disappointing winter break, but we knew we could come out of here with a win.”
Forward Brandon Heigelmann (15 points) scored midway through the fourth quarter to give the Blue Devils (4-7, 3-2) a 60-57 lead before Tessena and Profitt broke out for the Hornets (5-5, 2-3).
Tessena, a senior, drilled his sixth and final 3-pointer with 3:20 left to tie the game, giving him 23 points on the night. Ater a stop, point guard Jake Osborne gave Highland the lead for good with a basket.
“It was fantastic,” Hornets coach Adam Cestaro said. “We’d lost three in a row coming in, and it would have been really easy to go away and hide somewhere and get down on yourself and your teammates, but we did the opposite of that.”
Profitt followed with his second steal and fastbreak layup of the fourth quarter as part of a 9-0 run that was capped by two foul shots by senior Ryan Chema, giving the Hornets a 66-60 lead.
Senior Nick Hussing (team-high 22 points) twice brought Tallmadge back, but a final defensive stand by Highland preserved the lead.
“We just had to trust each other (defensively),” Tessena said. “We’ve been in these situations before, both when we’ve won and lost, but we know to trust each other and have each other’s back.”
Profitt sank four foul shots in the last 20 seconds as part of an 11-point fourth quarter.
“You could just see the determination on his face that he was not going to let this game slip away,” Cestaro said. “He was really good on the defensive end and then he knocked down the free throws to ice it.”
The game started slowly for the Hornets, as Tallmadge opened with a 9-0 run. Tessena put his team on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws that sparked a 16-4 run, as the senior’s first 3-pointer gave Highland its first lead at 14-13.
“We talked about always keeping our head up,” Profitt said. “We knew we’d come back and it’d be a game of runs.”
Highland 70, Tallmadge 66
HIGHLAND 19 19 14 18 — 70
TALLMADGE 16 18 16 16 — 66
Highland — Bryce Profitt 7-10-25, Ryan Chema 3-2-8, Alex Jaworski 3-0-7, Cole Tessena 7-3-23, Jacob Osborne 2-1-5, Tommy Williams 0-0-0, Connor Klein 1-0-2, Preston Grinder 0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-16-70.
Tallmadge — Jake Gardella 3-0-9, Daniel Kurko 4-0-8, Brandon Heigelmann 6-2-15, Nick Hussing 8-6-22, Sam Seeker 3-0-6, Sean Ambrose 2-0-6, Nick Lambacher 0-0-0, Ethan Taylor 0-0-0, Andrew Ayres 0-0-0, Nate Zappola 0-0-0, Liam Tokash 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-8-66.
3-point goals — Tessena 6, Profitt, Jaworski, Gardella 3, Ambrose 2, Heigelmann. Rebounds — Tallmadge 31 (Kurko 9), Highland 27 (Profitt 9). Assists — Tallmadge 15 (Seeker 8), Highland 12 (Profitt 3). Records — Highland (5-5, 2-3), Tallmadge (4-7, 3-2). Junior varsity — Highland 57, Tallmadge 36.