Seniors lead Highlands boys to victory over Kiski Area

Friday, February 2, 2018 | 11:03 PM

The Highlands boys basketball team typically doesn't start five seniors. But on senior night against Kiski Area, it did just that and did it with success.

The Golden Rams' starting lineup of Romello Freeman, Cameron Foster Christian Tanilli, Ryan Signorella, and Shawn Erceg displayed plenty of on-court chemistry as each player scored at least one basket while propelling their team to a 17-3 first-quarter lead.

From there, Highlands (14-4, 8-1) coasted to a 74-49 victory over the Cavaliers (1-19, 0-9) in the Section 3-5A game.

“It was neat. It's just awesome for those guys. They work really hard in the summer and all year round,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said.

“For them to all get a basket during that time and really embrace playing together out there on the court, it's just fun to see for our program.”

Erceg led all scorers with 17 points, and Freeman was a presence in the paint with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Signorella had 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and sophomore Luke Cochran also made three 3-pointers among his 13 points.

The Rams' night could be characterized best as a clinic on how to play unselfish basketball. Eight players scored, and five had at least three assists.

“It's just what we try to do on a normal basis. Our seniors play together like no other, and that sets the tone,” Stoczynski said. “These guys really care for each other, and it shows on the court.

“At times, it's almost like we're too unselfish, but as long as we're playing hard and playing together, I think we'll be OK.”

After faltering on offense early in the game, Kiski Area rallied to score double-digit points in the each of the final three quarters. Junior Jack Colecchi led the Cavaliers with 13 points, and junior Nick Smith added 12 as coach Joe Tutchstone's team capped a challenging week.

“This is the fourth game we had this week,” Tutchstone said. “We played overtime last night, and we played Monday and Tuesday. The kids' legs are dead, but they had the will to still fight.

“I know we're down by 20 or whatever, but the kids are still fighting and we are doing things better. We're still having trouble finishing, but just their competitive nature and focus are things that we can always build off of.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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