|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Justin Weyer (14) puts up a shot in Saturday's game against Newport. Weyer scored 15 points in the Highlands loss.|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Mitch Cain (right) drives in the 36th District contest against Newport on Saturday. Cain scored 12 points.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The Highlands Bluebirds basketball team players seemed to be getting their feet under them in recent weeks.
But now the Bluebirds have to deal with the loss of their leading scorer for potentially a few weeks. Senior Parker Harris entered Saturday’s 36th District home game against the Newport Wildcats averaging about 15 points per game. But he went out with an apparent leg injury in the first half and may be out a few weeks after scoring two points.
Despite that, Highlands (2-8 overall, 0-1 district) gave a valiant effort in a 61-56 loss to the Wildcats (8-8, 2-1 district) Saturday. The Bluebirds just fell behind too much and it was hard to overcome against Ethan Snapp and the Wildcats.
Snapp made five three-pointers and 9-of-10 free throws on his way to 32 points. He also added four steals.
Highlands saw three players reach double digits in the comeback attempt. Justin Weyer led the way with 15 points with Mitch Cain and Nick Kendall scoring 12 each.
“I told the kids we had to be our best selves for the next 16 minutes and we were pretty darn close,” said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. “I told everyone on the bench to be ready to go because whatever the situation dictated, I was going to go with whoever I felt was the best matchup at that time. We got a lot of good minutes out of every one of the kids who got in the game.”
The Bluebirds shot the ball better as both teams took 49 attempts. Highlands made 22 for 45 percent and Newport it 19 for 39 percent.
But the Wildcats won the rebounding battle, 39-28 and did better at the free-throw line. The Wildcats made 16-of-25 for 64 percent compared to 4-for-10 for 40 percent. Kameron Covington led Newport with 11 rebounds and Bo Hebel grabbed eight to lead the Bluebirds.
Things stayed close the first quarter. Newport scored the game’s first five points before Highlands responded with seven in a row. The teams ended the quarter tied at 11.
Newport went on a 6-0 run to take the lead for good in the second quarter. Kedau Davis started it with a triple before Dominick Joseph scored and later hit 1-of-2 free throws.
Highlands cut the margin to three on three separate occasions in the quarter. Newport led 27-21 at halftime.
The Wildcats then extended the margin to 12 with a minute left in the third quarter. Snapp made two three-pointers to put Newport up 42-30. Kendall hit a lay-up to cut the margin to 42-32 entering the fourth quarter.
“(Snapp) is a tough matchup even if we’re at full strength,” Listerman said. “He’s a very, very good player. He did a good job of shaking free. I thought we made a lot of his looks difficult. Then we got in foul trouble and he got some favorable matchups. We broke down a couple times. But that’s going to happen in a game and he buried them. That’s what great players do.”
Highlands chipped away at the lead slowly. The Bluebirds got to within five with 1:46 left in the game following a Weyer three-pointer and four with 1:19 left when Cain made a free throw.
But Newport pulled away. A Braden Posey three-pointer at the buzzer made the final score closer for Highlands.
Highlands plays host to Finneytown (Ohio) on Monday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.