GRANGER TOWNSHIP — Their star player had the game of his life.
Unfortunately for the Greenmen, it was not enough.
The Aurora boys basketball team dropped to 2-6 overall and 0-4 in the Suburban League American Conference after losing to host Highland 66-63 in overtime Friday in Granger Township.
The Greenmen fell short despite a game-high and career-high 38 points from senior guard/forward Ethan Hays. At one point, Hays scored 16 points in a row for Aurora. He scored 24 points in the second half and knocked down five 3-pointers.
While Hays did his best work putting the ball in the basket, Greenmen head coach T.J. Henderson was particularly pleased with his talented pupil’s ability to find a teammate when the shot wasn’t there.
Such unselfishness was evident in the final seconds of the third quarter when Hays found junior forward Romeo Pitts-Medley cutting to the basket. Pitts-Medley missed his first shot but got his own rebound before putting his second attempt in the hoop as the buzzer sounded. That basket cut the Hornets’ lead to just a deuce (46-44).
"One of the plays I’m really proud of Ethan is, pick and roll and he’s hot," Henderson said. "They double him and he dumps it down to Romeo. That’s a teammate right there. Everyone thinks you’re going to shoot it and he passes it to the one kid they don’t think is going to shoot it."
Unfortunately, Hays couldn’t finish what he started.
Hays fouled out midway into the overtime period and thanks to a critical turnover and uncontested layup by the Hornets’ Alex Jaworski, the Greenmen’s hopes were doomed.
While Aurora managed to take a brief lead (63-61), Hays’ teammates may have felt a bit lost without their transcendent playmaker.
"Sometimes they do get stuck saying, ‘OK, he’s just going to do his job,’" Henderson said. "We talked at halftime, it was like, ‘Guys, make the extra pass.’
"If we can do that for a full game and play together, we can be fun to watch. Unfortunately, we only did it for half a game."
Jaworski’s bucket gave Highland (3-5, 1-3) a 66-63 lead with less than 10 seconds left. The Greenmen’s last shot did not hit the rim.
Lenny Feckner added nine points for Aurora, which made seven 3-pointers and was 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
Senior guard/forward Bryce Profitt, who had a couple of dunks, led the Hornets with 30 points. Jaworski added 14 points for the Hornets, who made just 9-of-16 shots from the foul line.
The Greenmen outrebounded Highland 29-18. Hays led Aurora with nine rebounds. The Greenmen also committed 12 turnovers.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.