Story Matters

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Highlands beats Beechwood to conclude regular season

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Nick Kendall (12) fires up a shot in Friday's game against Beechwood. The Bluebirds won 54-49 to conclude the regular season.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team hoped to go into the postseason on a positive note.

They sent out their seniors in style with a 54-49 victory over the Beechwood Tigers in their last game on the home court Friday. Highlands snapped an eight-game losing streak to enter the postseason with a 7-16 record.

The Bluebirds had not won since edging Pendleton County, 55-52 in Falmouth on Jan. 20. Highlands saw players like senior post Parker Harris and sophomore guard Bryce Traylor go down with injuries during that span making things more difficult.

Those two made a difference in the win. Harris finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and Traylor had 10 points making two three pointers and all four free-throw attempts. Mitch Cain added 11 points for the victors.

“The season has not panned out the way we envisioned it, especially with this recent losing skid we were on,” Harris said. “But like Coach Listerman just said, that’s the best 28 minutes we’ve played all season.”

Highlands has three seniors on the squad and they all start. The other two are Justin Weyer and Kenny Ball. Weyer had three assists to go along with seven points and Ball made two three-pointers to go with four rebunds.

“You want to send your seniors out on Senior Night playing well,” said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. “We handled the (2-3) zone. We’ve struggled at times with the zone this year. We have our team playing well now and we hope to continue that into next week.”

Highlands picked things up defensively in the third quarter. Guard Jacob Huff had 26 points and Connor Brock added 11 for Beechwood (9-15).

“We only gave up seven points in the third quarter,” Listerman said. “That mainly goes to Mitch Cain and Nick Kendall and the job they did on Jacob Huff and Conner Brock. I know Huff had a big night, but he had to work for everything he got.”

Highlands has had some players leave the program during the season. But the program is starting to come around as seen on the lower levels. The junior varsity has won five of its last six games and the freshmen team made the region title game. The middle school teams also had winning records. The sixth grade team finished undefeated winning the region.

“We bring a lot of energy to the floor and have a deep bench so that helps a lot,” Traylor said. “I am looking (to attack the rim) more. It starts in practice. What you use in practice, you use in games.”

Highlands won the rebounding battle 26-17. The Bluebirds made 19-of-37 shots for 51 percent, including 6-of-14 from three-point range for 43 percent. They also hit 10-of-16 free throws for 63 percent.

Beechwood made 19-of-39 shots for 49 percent, including 6-of-15 from three-point land. The Tigers also made 5-of-8 free-throw tries for 63 percent.

The Bluebirds enter the 36th District Tournament as the fourth seed. They take on Dayton at 7:30 p.m. in the first round at Newport on Monday.

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