With each jumpshot Killian Tallman puts up, with each drive to the basket and defensive stand he makes, there is a two-fold purpose.
The Mohonasen High School senior wants to win now, and find a place to play later.
“I’m trying to get a scholarship somewhere,” the multi-sport letter-winner said. “My parents always say before a game that someone could be watching. Every game, I just try to work harder and harder.”
That work rate and natural talent has filled the first half of Tallman’s senior year with noteworthy performances. He quarterbacked Mohonasen to its best football season since 2006, running for nine touchdowns and passing for five in the process, and is leading the basketball team in scoring with an average of just over 15 points.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound team captain fired in a career-best 25 points in Friday’s 56-40 road win at Averill Park. His 24 points Tuesday in a 63-50 loss to Bethlehem included a career-high five three-point baskets and an acrobatic buzzer-beating layup to end the first quarter.
“He’s God-gifted, but he’s the kind of kid who keeps working at it,” said Mohonasen basketball coach Ken Dagostino. “College coaches like to see that. There will be a spot at some level for him.”
Tallman would actually like to fill two spots. He has an ambitious goal to play both football and basketball at the collegiate level.
“I want to have a ball in my hands, however it works out. If I go Division III, I’d like to go for both,” said Tallman. “If I go higher, I’ll probably stick to one. We’ll see what happens.”
“I was a dual-sport athlete in college, and I made it work. If he goes in that direction, I’m sure he’ll take it head on,” said Mohonasen football coach Dennis Corbitt, who competed in football and track at Cortland. “He’s a tremendous athlete with good grades and good character, and I’ve told him more than once, ‘You can do it. Don’t sell yourself short.’ ”
Tallman went long in the final seconds in the rain and mud to help Mohonasen pull off one of the great football victories in program history in October.
“He made one heck of a move just to get to the first down marker,” Corbitt said.
Mohonasen was looking at a fourth-and-17 and trailing Averill Park, 14-7, when Tallman bolted for a 48-yard touchdown. His second touchdown in that final regular season game and Nick Bateman’s two-point pass to Trevon Tucker gave the Mighty Warriors the dramatic win and vaulted them into the Section II playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“We ran smash routes, and I didn’t see an open guy. I got flushed out of the pocket, broke two tackles and got two important blocks,” Tallman said of his clutch touchdown.
Mohonasen won its final three Class A Southeast Division games to finish 4-2, and went 4-4 overall. Mohonasen went a combined 3-31 the previous four seasons.
“Our season could have gone either way, and he stepped up,” Corbitt said. “He really came on late in the football season. He found ways to make plays when we needed them.”
Corbitt told Tallman that his play would be pivotal if Mohonasen was to turn the corner.
“I challenged him in the beginning of the summer, and he answered it,” Corbitt said. “When you put pressure on kids, sometimes they crumble. He didn’t. He put on some weight, stepped up as a leader and made things happen on the field.”
Mohonasen had lost 22 consecutive games before closing the 2010 season with a 54-34 win against South Glens Falls, a contest in which Tallman fired five touchdown passes and ran for another. He ran for two more touchdowns when the Mighty Warriors opened their 2011 breakthrough season with a 41-6 win against Green Tech.
“We took our lumps as sophomores and juniors, and we were able to turn it around,” said Tallman. “Mostly, it was listening to coach — he knows what he’s talking about — and executing and believing.”
Tallman executed from the field and at the line in a 24-point outburst two games into this basketball season in a 77-51 win over Columbia. As a junior role player on last season’s Section II Class A championship team, Tallman’s season-high was nine points in a win over Ballston Spa.
“That was most definitely a confidence boost,” Tallman said of his performance against Columbia, when he sank 11 of 12 free throws. “I showed myself I could score in different ways.”
Tallman has reached double digits in points six times this season, including 23 when Mohonasen beat Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons for the Kirvin Cup title.
“I do what I can to help us win. Billy [Manikas] and myself, we’re being looked at to score, but I try to be an all-around player. I do the best I can,” said Tallman, who was selected the Kirvin Cup’s standout player. “Having one part of the game doesn’t make you’re a good player.”
“Since I met him in fifth grade he’s always had an offensive game. He’s a pretty confident kid in that respect, but over the years, every category has increased for him,” said Dagostino.
The guard/small forward collected five rebounds, four assists and three steals in that 63-49 triumph over Bishop Gibbons, and the night before he totaled 15 points, four rebounds and three steals in a 71-44 win against Schalmont.
“Last year, we had a senior group that was clicking. He was in the mix, but his minutes weren’t what he would have liked them to be,” said Dagostino. “This year we needed him to play a big role in our system at both ends, and he’s coming through. Kudos to the kid for persevering.”