By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team fell to the visiting Sacred Heart Valkyries, 59-51 to open the season Tuesday.
Highlands led 12-9 after the first quarter. But Sacred Heart took a 36-31 halftime lead and never looked back.
Sacred Heart made 19-of-44 shots for 43 percent and 9-of-19 from three-point range for 47 percent. The Valkyries also made 12-of-14 free throws for 86 percent.
Highlands made 14-of-34 shots for 41 percent including 6-of-13 from three-point land for 46 percent. The Bluebirds also made 17-of-24 free throws for 71 percent.
The Bluebirds did outrebound the visitors, 28-23. Alex Combs nabbed seven rebounds and scored a team-high 15 points for Highlands.
Combs and the two sophomore returning starters reached double-figures for Highlands. Haley Coffey scored 14 and Brianna Adler added 11.
Ashley Johnson hit all five free throws and 3-of-5 three-pointers for 18 points. Teammates Raven Merriweather scored 17 and Gretchen Samsel scored eight.
Highlands opens 36th District action Thursday back in Fort Thomas against Dayton (0-1). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Newport Central Catholic 66, Dixie Heights 35:
This one was thought to be a tight battle between two 9th Region contenders.
But the host Thoroughbreds dominated from start to finish in the season opener for both teams.
NewCath had balanced scoring with three players in double figures. Drew McDonald led the way with 18 points with Zach Pangallo scoring 14 and Ben Weyer 11 to go with eight rebounds. Senior Jake Schulte followed with eight points and 13 rebounds.
The Moeves brothers also had good debuts for NewCath. Tanner Moeves scored eight and Grant Moeves had seven.
NewCath held Dixie Heights senior standout Brandon Hatton to 14 points. The University of Vermont commit did not score any points in the first half.
All was not perfect for the Thoroughbreds. They made just 18-of-33 free throws for 55 percent compared to 15-of-23 for 65 percent for the Colonels.
NewCath does not play again for a week. The Thoroughbreds travel to Dayton to open 36th District play. Game time is 7:30 p.m.