|Bluebirds fall on road in overtime|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Bryce Traylor looks to make a move in a recent game against St.Henry. Traylor had 15 points in the 70-62 overtime loss at Walton-Verona on Thursday.|
But the 1-5 record of the Highlands Bluebirds basketball program do not reflect the tremendous improvement shown this season. The 70-62 loss at the Walton-Verona Bearcats (4-3 overall) on Thursday is another example.
The Bearcats built a 51-42 advantage in the fourth quarter. That deficit has generally not boded well in the recent past for the Bluebirds. But they came back and took the lead briefly in the final minute. Highlands had a chance to win in the final seconds of regulation but missed a shot near the rim.
"We still have a ways to go," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "But this team has the capability to make some runs. For us right now, it's about figuring out how the pieces fit together. It's part of the process. I'm so proud of the way we battled. We just didn't make the plays to finish it and that's the next step we have to take."
The Bluebirds saw 10 players score in the loss. They learned to play without their best player in 6-foot-5-inch post Kyle Finfrock for some of the game. Finfrock had to sit with foul trouble in parts of the game before fouling out with 2:30 left in the game. Frinfrock finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Senior Bryce Traylor also had a good game making four three-pointers on his way to 15 points. Senior guard Bradley Greene had four steals to go with four points helping Highlands have a chance at the end.
Highlands trailed by six before making a quick 7-0 applying full-court pressure. The run started with a Ben Sisson score before junior Carl Schoellman made a triple with 1:07 left in regulation. Then following another steal, junior Griffin Huber scored to give Highlands a 59-58 advantage.
Following two Walton-Verona missed free throws, Highlands ran down the clock. Traylor stepped up and made 1-of-2 free throws with 31.6 seconds left.
The Bluebirds were called for a foul on the rebound on the second miss. At the other end, Walton-Verona sophomore center Dieonte Miles made both free throws to tie the game at 60.
In the four-minute overtime session, Jeremy Morgan gave Walton-Verona the lead before Braden Posey tied it with 2:58 left. After Evan Anderson and Miles scored, Highlands tried to attack the basket but could not score on Miles. The Bearcats made 4-of-6 free throws to pull away at that point.
Miles finished with a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Bearcats also saw Zach Clinkenbeard score 15 and Dustin Lay add 12. Walton-Verona won the rebounding battle 38-25.
"I give credit to the guys," said Grant Brannen, Walton-Verona Head Coach. "They're a young group that plays hard. We're still gelling. We've probably had a combined 14 practices overall with the football players game. We've played seven games in two weeks and just haven't had much practice time. But they work hard. They listen and they lock in. It wasn't pretty, but the guys found a way to win."
Highlands made 24-of-68 shots for 35 percent and 7-of-11 free throws for 64 percent. Walton-Verona made 24-of-46 shots for 52 percent and 20-of-32 free throws for 63 percent.
The Bluebirds travel to Bishop Brossart (1-5) on Saturday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.