COPLEY TWP. — Highland’s boys basketball team dropped into a first-place tie in the Suburban League American Conference on Friday.
The Hornets only have themselves to blame.
Aamir Solomon scored a game-high 19 points and fellow senior guard Brian Roberts had 18 points and six assists as Copley outscored Highland in all four quarters en route to a 65-52 victory.
Senior guard Jarrett Smith collected 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists for the Hornets (5-4, 3-1), who missed 19 of their first 21 3-point attempts in a lethargic effort on the road.
“Unfortunately, Christmas break malaise is what you saw from us tonight,” Highland coach Adam Cestaro said. “It was disappointing because we let one slip away, but take nothing away from Copley. They’re a very good team and their guards are the class of the league.”
The Indians (6-2, 3-1) took the lead midway through the second and never looked back, ultimately going up by 16 points three times in the fourth. Tallmadge (6-2, 3-1) also moved into the logjam atop the SL American as a result of its 66-60 win over Barberton.
Junior guard Diamond Jones added 12 points and three assists off the bench for Copley, while Hornets senior forward Collin Rittman had 14 points, six boards and two helpers.
Highland was playing its first game since defeating Buckeye on Dec. 28 and just its second contest in a 14-day span. The rust showed as the Hornets only made one 3-pointer in the first 23ﾽ minutes and were repeatedly beaten down the floor.
“You can try to simulate games the best you can in practice, but it’s not the same,” said Smith, who was 7-for-16 from the field, 2-for-6 from beyond the arc and 2-for-2 at the line. “No excuses for the way we played, but that’s definitely what happened tonight. Having eight days off after playing Buckeye seemed to affect our energy from the start.”
Center Landon Mazzocco chipped in eight points, three assists and a pair of blocks, guard Jake Rogers had five assists and reserve Pete Gmitric scored five points for Highland, which finished 4-for-24 on 3-pointers and had just four players grab more than one board.
“Not being the biggest team, we need to shoot well from the perimeter,” Cestaro said. “We’re not going to win a lot of games missing as many threes as we did here, but our help defense wasn’t there all night, either.”
Despite the disappointing performance, Cestaro was a picture of tranquility during and after the game, calmly reminding his players that the Indians have to come to Highland later in the season.
“We didn’t play well and we had to learn a hard lesson because of it,” Cestaro said. “The good thing is we can learn from it.
“If you look at our schedule for the rest of the month, every Friday is a league game against a really good team in Tallmadge, Barberton and Revere. That’s exciting, knowing that we’re still tied for first place in the SL and we have an opportunity to stay there.”
- Rittman moved into sixth place in Highland history with 945 career points, surpassing Mike Webster’s 932. Next on the list is John Hatch at 995.
- Copley won the junior varsity game 56-51. Ryan Chema led the Hornets with 16 points.
Copley 65, Highland 52
HIGHLAND 8 15 15 14 — 52
COPLEY 12 18 17 18 — 65
Highland — Collin Rittman 6-2-14, Ryan Frederick 0-0-0, Landon Mazzocco 4-0-8, Jarrett Smith 7-2-18, Jake Rogers 0-2-2, Pete Gmitric 2-0-5, Devin Myers 1-0-3, Alex Jaworski 1-0-2, Jacob Maschke 0-0-0, Ryan Acks 0-0-0, Jake Osborne 0-0-0, Cole Tessena 0-0-0, Ryan Chema 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-6-52.
Copley — Isaiah Rogers 4-0-8, Anthony Dente 1-0-3, Sam Emich 2-1-5, Aamir Solomon 7-2-19, Brian Roberts 6-5-18, Diamond Jones 5-1-12, Montell Hubbard 0-0-0, Anthony Jackson 0-0-0, Tyson Durant 0-0-0, A.J. Campbell 0-0-0, Maliq Spragling 0-0-0, Joe Boyer 0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-9-65.
3-point goals — Smith 2, Gmitric, Myers, Solomon 3, Dente, Roberts, Jones. Rebounds — Highland 23 (Smith 7), Copley 25 (Emich 7). Assists — Highland 15 (Rogers 5), Copley 13 (Roberts 6). Records — Highland (5-4, 3-1), Copley (6-2, 3-1). Junior varsity — Copley 56, Highland 51.