|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands freshman Zoie Barth (middle) splits two Ryle defenders in Monday's game. Barth scored 16 points in the Highlands loss.|
The Highlands Ladybirds basketball team won a lot during these two crucial months before hitting the postseason on the way to 26, 23 and 30-win seasons. Highlands had just 10 losses in those two months those three seasons.
But following Monday's 51-40 loss at Ryle, the Ladybirds fell to 14-9 on the season. They have lost seven of the last 10 games.
The main reason is inconsistent execution offensively. Highlands made just 11-of-43 shots for 25.5 percent in the loss compared to 16-of-41 for 39 percent for Ryle.
"We froze out there," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We're making the same mistakes over and over and we can't do that. We have to get better."
On the other side, the Lady Raiders improved to 16-5 and have won 10-of-11 games against teams in Northern Kentucky. Former Boone County player and assistant Katie Madden-Haitz took over the program in the summer. Ryle finished 15-12 and 12-15 the previous two years.
"That's been our goal the whole time, to work together and play together and see what happens," Haitz said. "They're playing up to their potential right now and I'm very excited about that."
Highlands had problems making things happen against the Ryle size. Senior post Carly Lange led Ryle with 18 points and guarded Highlands senior Brianna Adler. Adler scored just seven points finishing four points below her average.
Ryle had one other player reach double digits. That was senior guard Mallory Schwartz with 12.
Highlands freshman guard Zoie Barth gave the Ladybirds a chance in the fourth quarter. She drove into the lane and tried to spin around the Ryle posts to create opportunities. Barth finished with a team-high 16 points.
Highlands trailed 36-22 going into the fourth quarter. But the Ladybirds scored on seven of their first nine offensive possessions to trim it to 43-36 with 1:57 left. But Ryle made its free throws down the stretch.
The Ladybirds know they need to fix things quickly before the postseason arrives. They have six games left.
"We're going through a tough stretch and we have to learn from these things," Richey said. "There are two weeks that matter. That's district and region week so we have to start preparing. We have to start playing better and smarter."
The next game is Thursday at home against Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Ursula. Game time is 7:30 p.m.