CUYAHOGA FALLS — It’s a safe bet Emma Brustoski didn’t take part in any wild and crazy events Saturday evening.

Instead, the Cuyahoga Falls’ sophomore guard may have opted for the nearest suction machine after she left the gymnasium Saturday.

“It kind of gets hard to breathe after a while,” Brustoski said.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

With the heat turned up due to the practically Siberian temperatures in recent days, finding even a minimal amount of oxygen proved fruitless.

Fortunately for the irrepressible teenager and her teammates, the lack of quality air became irrelevant.

The host Black Tigers girls basketball team earned a hard-fought 61-59 victory over Tallmadge in a Suburban League crossover showdown at Coach Tom Jones Court.

Brustoski, Falls’ zealous super sub, had, perhaps, her best performance of the season to help the Black Tigers reach their 10th win for the third consecutive winter.

Brustoski finished with six steals, including four in the final eight minutes, and a career-high 17 points to lead Falls, which prevailed despite surrendering a double-digit first-half lead.

“She is constant energy,” Black Tigers head coach Joe Nowak said. “She provides a spark, especially on the defensive side of the ball. She puts herself in positions to do well because of how hard she plays.”

Brustoski’s boldest attempt at thievery took place with approximately 45 seconds left.

With her team up by three (60-57), Brustoski got into a Blue Devils’ passing lane and was off to the races. She ended up getting fouled on the play and although she made only one of her freebies, Tallmadge found itself in a rather perilous position.

The parching heat didn’t stop Nowak from throwing his fervent sophomore into a battle zone that offered extremely limited protection.

Brustoski was asked to stay in front of two of the Blue Devils’ top three offensive threats throughout the blistering afternoon. Those two offensive dynamos were sweet-shooting junior point guard Lizzie Bickar and senior guard Andreana Gotto, a young lady who attacks the paint without hesitation.

“I guarded two (Bickar) and 23 (Gotto) most of the game,” Brustoski said. “I guarded 23 for the first few quarters and then I guarded (Bickar) the rest of the game. She’s a really good guard.”

Gotto scored 12 points and Bickar, who saw herself hounded by Brustoski at every turn throughout the fourth quarter, scored a game-high 22 points.

Nonetheless, Bickar converted just two field goals in the final eight minutes.

“We asked her to guard Lizzie in the second half,” Nowak said of Brustoski. “I think she did a decent job of containing her effectiveness for the most part.”

Tallmadge head coach Collin Epstein knew of Brustoski’s reputation as a defensive specialist. However, he was thrown for a massive loop by her ability to produce on the offensive end as well.

“Everything she scored was effort,” Epstein said. “On film, you didn’t see it. She’s a defensive stopper, but man, she had some big buckets for them.”

Brustoski scored seven points in the final period mainly on hustle plays and fighting through and past Blue Devils to loose balls.

Thanks to its tenacious underclassmen, Falls, which led by as many as 15 (25-10) early in the second quarter, proved it can persevere in the rather daunting and frightening face known as adversity.

“It’s a great testament of what happens when you play hard all the time,” Nowak said.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.