G. Michael Graham Photo. Highlands forward Luke Turner (20) shoots over Holmes' Chris Englemon (32) in Friday's 9th Region matchup. Turner scored 10 points in Highlands' 67-36 loss to the Bulldogs.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
COVINGTON – The Highlands Bluebirds basketball team knew it had to shoot much better to have any chance to upset the undefeated Covington Holmes Bulldogs on Friday.
It did not happen.
The Bluebirds (9-14) made just 16-of-52 shots for 31 percent and no three-pointers in a 67-36 defeat. The tough thing about that percentage is a lot of those shots were near the basket.
“We got great shots on offense. We just didn’t make them,” said Mike Flynn, Highlands head coach. “The most novice basketball person can see that team struggles to shoot. You make those (close-range) shots in the offseason. People that make four-foot putts (in golf) all the time play year-round. You don’t become a good shooter during the season. You become a good shooter in the offseason.”
On the other side, the 24-0 Bulldogs made 24-of-46 shots for 52 percent putting four players in double-figures. That included seven three-pointers. Highlands packed the lane to keep Holmes from penetrating and it often left three-point shooters open.
“We spend a lot of time year-round shooting the basketballs in the gym,” said Jason Booher, Holmes head coach. “When you have good shooters, it makes your team look a lot better. This season, knock on wood, we’ve been hitting our shots from outside. That opens up our inside game. I was also proud of our defense as well.”
Rashawn Coston led the Bulldogs with three triples on his way to 16 points. DaQuan Palmer and James Bolden made two three-pointers each on their way to 14 and 12 respectively. Chris Englemon came off the bench to score 10 for Holmes.
Highlands also had balanced scoring led by Luke Turner’s 10 points. Nick True and Parker Harris followed with eight each. The Bluebirds played without Drew Houliston, who was out sick.
Harris has picked up his game recently. He finished with a team-high 14 rebounds. Highlands won the rebounding battle, 35-27.
“He’s found the speed to where he can be effective on the varsity level,” Flynn said of Harris. “He was playing too fast. Now he has a nice rhythm to his game. We just have to get him stronger in the offseason. He did some nice things. He’s a nice piece to add to our rotation this late in the year.”
The Bulldogs love to get out and make things happen in transition. They scored some fast-break points and earned more free-throw attempts as a result. They hit 12-of-15 attempts for 80 percent compared to 4-of-6 for 67 percent for Highlands.
Holmes also recorded some fast-break points off turnovers. Highlands committed 18 to seven for Holmes. The Bulldogs also recorded 14 steals to three for the Bluebirds. Bolden led Holmes with seven assists and five thefts.
“You are much better in transition off a miss than you are a make,” Flynn said. “If we can make some shots, then we take them out of their transition game. But when they’re in transition, they make great decisions. They pass, catch and finish.”
Holmes scored the game’s first nine points and never looked back. The Bulldogs led 19-6 after the first quarter then went on a 13-0 run in the second quarter to go up 34-10. They increased the margin to 52-24 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bluebirds fell to 3-9 in region play. They return to Covington on Tuesday to face the Holy Cross Indians (11-10) at 7:30 p.m.
Carrollton Bus Crash Survivors Honored:
Booher was one of the survivors of the Carrollton bush crash that took place about 11 p.m. on May 14, 1988.
Filmers came to shoot scenes from the upcoming documentary Impact: After the Crash. A youth group from Radcliff (Ky.) Assembly of God were on their way back from a trip to Kings Island when drunk driver Larry Mahoney ventured into the wrong lane on Interstate 71 in Carroll County collided with a church bus filled with 67 passengers and killed 27 of them.
“At the time when you go through a tragedy like the Carrollton bush crash, you don’t see any positives that would ever come out of a tragedy like that,” Booher said. “But years later, you can finally see the positive things that have come from it. The first one is stiffer drinking and driving laws. You’ve seen them increase in the last 25 years. The second thing is bus safety. You’ve seen our buses get a lot safer on the roads. The third thing is the educational part.”
Both crowds wore white in honor of the filming. A couple other survivors also attended the game such as Darrin Jaquess. Jaquess served as an honorary coach on the Holmes bench.
“The (documentary) is to send a message. (Drinking and driving) is not a good idea,” Jaquess said. “We hope to reach at least one person and save a life. I’m very blessed to be here. We don’t’need 27 more lives sacrificed to get the word out about drinking and driving.”
The crash is tied for the worst bus disaster in Kentucky history. The Prestonsburg bus crash of 1958 also took 27 lives. The worst bus crash in United States history was the Yuba City (Ca.) bus crash on May 21, 1976. That crash took 29 lives.
Mahoney, 34 at the time, had a blood alcohol concentration of .24 percent at the time of the crash. The 1988 legal limit in Kentucky at that time was .10.
Booher graduated from North Hardin High School in 1992. He later led Shelby Valley to the state and All “A” state championships in 2010 before coming to Holmes the following season.
More information on the documentary can be seen at http://www.theimpactmovie.com.