Boys Varsity Basketball · Broja’s buzzer-beater leads North to win over Chardon

North 64, Chardon 62

EASTLAKE—Foul trouble forced Aaron Broja to watch most of the first half of North’s Western Reserve Conference showdown against visiting Chardon on Tuesday.

He made up for lost time by scoring eight of his 12 points in the second half, including a floating jump shot with two seconds left in the game to lead the Rangers to a 64-62 win.

“What a collective team effort,” North coach Rob Koelling said of the win. “Aaron made the last basket but it was a heck of a battle by everybody out there to put us in position to win the game at the end.”

With the game tied at 48 heading into the fourth quarter, the Rangers used a 6-0 run to take a 54-51 lead.

Chardon scored five straight to pull to within 54-53 but the Rangers responded with a 4-0 run and kept a two-possession lead until Brady Toth’s 3-pointer tied the game with just 9.8 seconds remaining.

With 4.8 seconds remaining in regulation, Mikey Duleba inbounded the ball to Broja near the free throw line. Broja turned to his right and lofted the ball high above the outreached arms of two Chardon defenders for the win.

“It was perfect,” Broja said of the inbounds pass. “I just grabbed the ball, just tapped it in. It just went in. I just let it flow. It was amazing because we needed that win.”

Broja was one of four Rangers to score in double figures.

Duleba and Cam Proctor led the team with 14 points and Evan Liddington finished with 13.

“It was a great team win,” Koelling said. “Four guys in double figures, six guys scored overall and that’s something we’ve been preaching to them all along. I know it gets hard to try to buy in when the Ws and Ls aren’t going your way but I told them if they take care of the turnovers, if they make their free throws and if they get offensive boards and keep possessions alive, more times than not the game is going to go your way and sure enough tonight was a testament to that.”

The Rangers were 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the first half and finished the game 17-of-19.

“In the last two games, we had a four-point game against Madison and an overtime game against Mayfield,” Koelling said. “We were 58-percent from the free throw line against Mayfield and 57-percent against Madison. You make one more of those against Mayfield and you win that game. That’s the difference right there.”

Nate Scott contributed to the win with six points and a valiant effort on defense and Brian Skolny scored five points for the Rangers.

“I was pleased with our shot selection in the first half,” Koelling said. “We had some 3s, we didn’t shoot a great percentage for the game or in the first half, but we got the looks we wanted. A lot of them were cylinder misses, so they were right there. We told the guys to keep attacking and trying to knock your shot down from the outside. Guys just wanted the ball in their hands when the game was on the line.”

Ben Sulka led Chardon with a game-high 19 points while Nathanael Sulka added 15 and Toth finished with 12.

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