TALLMADGE — He’s a team captain, two-sport star and a member of Tallmadge High School’s version of “Phi Slama Jama.”
Despite his impressive curriculum vitae, Nick Hussing has a mysterious way of remaining somewhat anonymous outside the Blue Devils’ locker room.
When he pays a visit to James O. Maddox Court, on the other hand, you might think of the theme song from the 20th century hit television show “Cheers.”
That’s because everyone knows Hussing’s name at the beautiful institution located on North Munroe Road.
On Friday, the standout senior guard emerged from his usual spot among the dark shadows to take center stage.
Seven of his closest friends shared that stage with him.
The host Blue Devils celebrated senior night in style after earning a 91-76 victory over Barberton.
Hussing, who scored more than 50 career goals for the Tallmadge soccer team, contributed 15 points against the Magics and did his usual grueling behind-the-scenes work on defense.
He constantly pestered and disrupted Barberton’s top scorers throughout the fun-filled evening.
Despite having to fulfill his typical duties that lack elegance and glitter, Hussing got some much deserved attention from a very important person in his life.
That would be his head coach.
“Nick defends their (the other team’s) best player every game,” said Bill Johnson, who is in his first year as the leader of the Tallmadge boys basketball team. “I think that goes unnoticed. You see the box score and you don’t know he’s doing that.”
His work was especially unnoticed since the Magics’ dynamic duo of guards Jordan Soyars, a senior who is in the running for Suburban League American Conference Player of the Year honors, and Jamair Blackmon, a sophomore, scored 28 and 26 points, respectively.
Hussing spent much of the first half chasing after Soyars, who makes a living as a crafty and fearless invader of the paint.
He switched to Blackmon after halftime when the Blue Devils outscored Barberton 59-36.
Hussing turned a pair of his defensive gems into mesmerizing highlights.
And let’s just say those flashy plays didn’t go unnoticed.
Hussing used his sneaky hands to knock the ball loose from a Magics’ ball-handler and wound up finishing with thunderous dunks on the opposite end.
“They were definitely egging me on to dunk it,” Hussing said of his teammates’ powers of persuasion.
Dunks or no dunks, Hussing had the time of his life on a memorable evening that included a little bit of everything.
And the senior night festivities didn’t end once the jump ball took place.
Hussing got a rare opportunity to spend quality time with all seven of his classmates on the court as Johnson decided to give every senior a chance to shine under the varsity lights.
All eight of those seniors saw the floor in the first quarter.
“It was really special with everyone getting to play,” Hussing said. “All the people who have put their hard work and time in finally got to show it on the court. It was a lot of fun for everyone, especially getting the win.”
Hussing is the type of teenager who will gladly offer a helping hand to his fellow comrades. And if the engaging senior is in the building, negative thoughts and gloomy outlooks are strictly forbidden.
After all, it’s very likely these eight seniors will go their separate ways when they graduate in May.
Hussing wants to make sure he appreciates every moment he has with his tank top wearing band of brothers.
“We’re all super close,” Hussing said. “We’ve been playing together since we were in fifth grade. We all have really good chemistry together. It’s going to be sad when we’re not playing with each other any more.”
Hussing did most of his scoring off the dribble. If the opportunity was right, the speedy guard used an explosive first step to dash toward the hoop for uncontested finger rolls.
“I thought Nick had a really nice game,” Johnson said. “He finished; he got great looks.”
Tallmadge has run into some potholes in recent weeks after a stellar start in American Conference play.
Therefore, a chance to hang a conference championship banner will have to wait another year.
Nonetheless, the Blue Devils could be a formidable bunch when they play schools more their size in the postseason tournament.
A talented senior known for being, well, unknown is stoked about the upcoming March Madness.
“I feel great, especially going into the playoffs,” Hussing said. “We can do great things.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.