Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Highlands doubles up NewCath

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Lydia Graves (left) puts up a three-point shot over Newport Central Catholic's Michaela Ware (11) in Saturday's game. Graves made four three-pointers for 16 points in the 62-31 Highlands victory.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

There have been a number of great games in this girls basketball series throughout the years.

The matchup Saturday did not turn out to be one of them. The Highlands Ladybirds (11-1 overall, 3-0 district) came out hot and doubled the visiting Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (7-4, 1-1), 62-31 in the crucial 36th District game. Highlands had not beaten NewCath at home in the regular season since Jan. 9, 2009 by a 54-48 count led by the likes of Sam Messmer and Mallory Adler.

Highlands followed up a 25-point win over Conner on Wednesday with another big win. This comes following two sub-par performances Tuesday in their lone loss of the year to Owensboro Catholic and a win over Walton-Verona.

“It wasn’t anything the staff did. It was the girls refocusing and knowing they have to bring it every night,” said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. “They responded well. They know we have a tough stretch coming up. They knew they needed to come out and perform well. They did that.”

Both teams took 46 shots. Highlands made 23 for 50 percent including 5-of-11 from three-point range for 46 percent and NewCath made 11 for just 24 percent including 4-of-14 from outside. Highlands had 1.17 points per possession to .53 for the Thoroughbreds.

“At all times, they have five players that can score and that’s what makes them dangerous,” said George Stoll, NewCath Head Coach. “We just need other players to step up. We need to play better and we didn’t (Saturday). That’s the bottom line.”

The Ladybirds displayed their usual balance as the top seven players scored at least five points. Senior Lydia Graves led the way with 16 points making 4-of-5 from three-point range. Junior McKenzie Leigh followed with 13 and Kiersten Clukey had 10.

“I complemented the girls at half,” Richey said. “They knew Lydia had the hot hand. A lot of teams struggle with that. We’re recognizing who’s hot and we’re getting her the ball.”

Highlands also won the rebounding battle, 38-27. Leigh and Alex Combs had eight rebounds each. Combs added eight points.

Senior Michaela Ware tried to keep Highlands in the game with 16 points. She hit 6-of-12 shots for 50 percent. But NewCath could not answer when Highlands took away her penetration. No one scored more than seven points for NewCath.

“We had to make sure we kept Michaela Ware to her left and make sure (Sarah) Neace didn’t get any wide-open shots,” Richey said. “We didn’t let her shoot a three and that was huge.”

Highlands did a better job stepping in the passing lanes defensively. The Ladybirds recorded eight steals and 11 turnovers to 17 turnovers and one steal for the Thoroughbreds. Brianna Adler and Zoie Barth had two thefts each.

Highlands did a good job beating the NewCath pressure and scoring. Clukey made a couple fast-break lay-ups.

“The biggest thing is making sure someone comes back to help at all times,” Clukey said. “Our speed really helped us get down the floor and execute good passes.”

Neither team shot free throws exceptionally well. Highlands made 11-of-19 for 58 percent and NewCath made 5-of-10 for 50 percent.

Leigh put in an offensive rebound 15 seconds into the game and Loren Zimmerman hit a jumper to tie the game with 7:10 left in the first quarter. But Highlands went on an 11-0 run and never looked back. Graves led the way making three three-pointers during the run.

“We knew we had to come out strong because we knew they would come out intense,” Graves said. “If we didn’t match that, it wasn’t going to be good in the beginning. We worked together as a team.”

Highlands led 22-10 after the first quarter and extended it to 26-10 following a Leigh score. NewCath cut the margin to 26-15 before a Haley Coffey offensive putback and Combs score extended it back to 30-15.

Highands led 33-18 at halftime and put the game away in the third quarter with a 7-0 run. Graves hit another three-pointer and Leigh had a three-point play to put the Ladybirds up 45-22.

Highlands led 45-24 entering the fourth quarter. The Ladybirds finished the game with a 15-0 run. Clukey had six points to lead Highlands during that stretch.

Highlands plays again Monday at Notre Dame while NewCath travels to Boone County on Tuesday. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

Basketball, Boys:
Newport Central Catholic 63, St. Louis (Mo.) Academy 61:

The Thoroughbreds (7-2) won their game in the Clem Haskins Classic at Taylor County over the Missouri team that goes 6-foot-7, 6-9, 6-10 and seven feet on its front line.

Drew McDonald made two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to win the game for NewCath. Ben Weyer had a double-double of 33 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Thoroughbreds.

NewCath takes on Covington Holy Cross on Monday at The Hill. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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