|Highlands basketball teams drop season openers|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands guard Abe Hils (20) drives to the basket in a recent seventh-grade game. Basketball season is underway in Kentucky.|
Senior 6-foot-5-inch post Kyle Finfrock recorded the first of what could be numerous double-doubles this year with 22 points and 13 rebounds against the Covington Holmes Bulldogs. But the Bluebirds also showed they need to handle quick opponents better in a 68-61 loss.
Holmes placede three players in double figures. Newport transfer Rico Hollis led the way with 18 points and post Jaiden Greene scored 17 with Raavia Commodore scoring 13. The Bulldogs tried to run up and down the floor like usual and create things in the fast-break attack. Highlands turned the ball over 18 times compared to 16 for Holmes.
"You have to spread them out and be able to beat them off the bounce and be able to kick and finish plays," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "We just did not make the right choices at the right times. We had a few critical turnovers down the stretch that really cost us. But those are correctable things. We're going to learn and get better as we go."
A number of players showed promise for the Bluebirds as all five starters including sophomore Jacob Noe scored at least six points. Senior Luke LaFrange scored 10 points and senior Bryce Traylor had nine.
"I thought our effort was tremendous," Listerman said. "We did a lot of good things. We had a lot of guys out there at different times that hadn't played meaningful varsity minutes and they gave us some good spurts. We have some pieces. We just have to figure out how to put them together."
Highlands did get off nice shots when executing its half-court offense. The Bluebirds made 21-of-57 shots for 37 percent including seven three-pointers and 11-of-20 free throws for 55 percent. Holmes made 25-of-56 shots for 45 percent and 16-of-25 free throws for 64 percent.
But Holmes recorded 11 steals to five for Highlands. Greene led the Bulldgos with six steals.
"They came after our guards and we really struggled with the pressure," Listerman said. "That was the biggest problem. They made it difficult for us to get Kyle (Finfrock) the ball. I give them a lot of credit because their guards were better than our guards (Tuesday), particularly handling the basketball and making decisions."
The Bulldogs also won the rebounding battle, 38-32. Commodore led Holmes with nine and LaFrange had nine for the Bluebirds.
Highlands scored the game's first seven points prompting a Holmes time-out. The Bulldogs came back to tie the game at seven. The score stayed even the rest of the quarter as the teams tied 13-13 after one.
The second quarter was also pretty even. Finfrock made two free throws with 28.7 seconds left to put Highlands up 32-31 at halftime.
Finfrock had 15 points and 10 rebounds at halftime. The Bulldogs sagged their defense around him in the second half.
Highlands built a nine-point lead to 42-33 with 5:55 left in the third after Traylor made a triple. But Holmes fought back and used a 9-0 run to go up 51-46 grabbing key rebounds. Traylor made another three-pointer with 14.8 seconds left to cut the lead to 51-50 after three.
Finfrock hit a free throw to tie the game at 53 with 6:46 left in the game. But Hollis made a three-point play and Commodore followed it with an offensive rebound and score to put the Bulldogs up for good.
Highlands did cut the lead to three twice down the stretch. LaFrange had a good look to tie it late in the game, but the shot did not go down and Holmes made enough plays down the stretch to hold on for the win.
The Bluebirds travel to Boone County on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Sacred Heart 73, Highlands 54:
Highlands gave a great effort in the season-opener for both squads. But the Valkyries outrebounded the Ladybirds, 31-19 on their way to the home victory.
Sophomore guard Zoie Barth and senior guard Jenna Martin led Highlands scoring 18 and 15 points respectively. Barth made all 10 free-throw attempts and Martin made 3-of-6 three-point tries. Senior forward Lauren Epperson followed with nine points. Highlands made all 16 free-throw tries.
Sacred Heart saw three players score in double figures. Kiki Samsel led the way with 17 points and Grace Berger scored 15 with Natalie Fichter scored 10. Berger, an Indiana University commit, added four assists.
Sacred Heart hit 30-of-51 shots for nearly 59 percent taking 10 more than Highlands. The Valkyries hit 6-of-14 three-point shots for 43 percent. The Ladybirds made 15-of-41 shots for 37 percent and 8-of-15 three-point shots for 53 percent.
Highlands travels to Dayton on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.