TALLMADGE — Their fans didn’t think it was possible.
Their coach didn’t either.
Danny Kurko and his teammates, on the other hand, decided not to pay much notice to their plethora of skeptics.
“We knew,” Kurko said. “That’s all I have to say.”
Thanks to the wisdom and faith of the determined senior and his fellow comrades, the Tallmadge boys basketball team pulled off a comeback for the ages on its home floor.
The Blue Devils rallied from a near insurmountable deficit to stun Suburban League American Conference rival Barberton 65-61 Tuesday at James O. Maddox Court.
How miraculous was this accomplishment?
Ninety seconds into the third quarter, the Magics had a 21-point lead when junior guard Jamair Blackmon swished a 3-pointer.
By the end of the game, though, Tallmadge completed the finishing touches of its heart-racing and improbable victory.
“I don’t think anybody out there in the stands believed that we would win,” Kurko said. “Every single person on the team believed.”
Oddly enough, that didn’t include their head coach.
“Dead honest truth, I told them, ‘I don’t know if we can win,’” Bill Johnson said. “If we go out there and try to execute what we are doing every possession, it just kind of dwindles and dwindles and you give yourself a chance. My gosh, it just happened.”
A certain 6-foot-5 post player made it happen.
With his team up by two in the final seconds, Kurko terminated Barberton’s hopes with a rather harsh rejection letter.
Of course, this particular blunt message didn’t require a pen or a keyboard.
Magics’ junior guard D’Lawrence Scott, who baffled the Blue Devils throughout the evening, thanks to his ability to find open shooters off the dribble, attacked the basket before putting up a shot from close range.
Moments after the ball was released, Kurko swatted it away rather ruthlessly. Teammate Nicholas Lambacher tracked down the loose ball and then calmly drained two free throws with a second left for the game’s final points.
“I was just in my right zone,” Kurko said. “We executed our defense right. I came in on the help and blocked it.”
Kurko finished with a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds. However, such numbers only tell part of the story, according to Johnson.
“This man right here rebounded the [heck] out of the ball,” he said of his workmanlike big man. “We can’t do what we did out there without him. It’s not just his energy; it’s not just his passion; it’s not his height, his scoring. It’s just the fact he refuses to lose.”
Such indomitable willpower seemed nonexistent in the first half. The Blue Devils committed 16 turnovers and trailed by 20 (40-20).
“Our energy was a little low, but [at] the start of the third quarter, we got a lot of points,” Kurko said. “We got some good stops and just executed right.”
Since he became the head coach last season, Johnson has preached the importance of being a family over and over again.
At times, it has been a work in progress. Fortunately for Johnson, this blue-and-gold family seems to have a venerable patriarch.
“We talked a lot about family last year,” Johnson said. “I think we’re finding that this year. It’s taken a little bit of time. And that guy over there [Kurko] starts it.”
He plans to finish it, too.
A win like this one could pay enormous dividends down the road for a team that had been scuffling prior to Tuesday.
As for Kurko, his goal is to keep his family together, regardless of the circumstances.
More importantly, he learned something quite valuable after he and his basketball siblings pulled off an epic comeback.
Nothing is impossible.
“It’s our chant every time we break out of the huddle,” Kurko said. “Everybody is a family member; everybody is a brother. We try to keep everybody high after past losses. We got this one done.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.