Friday, February 3, 2017
Home Stretch for Highlands Hoops
The Bluebirds (11-13 overall) would not mind putting together some wins during that span and head into the postseason with momentum. Highlands started the stretch run strong with a convincing 75-45 victory over the host Villa Madonna Blue Lightning (10-12) in 9th Region action, Highlands improved to 8-6 in region play with the win.
"It was very pleasing with the way we focused particularly in the second half," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "We're very simple with what we did and we followed our assignments both offensively and defensively and just took care of business. We took (the lead) from 13 points to 22 points in the second half and really set the tone for the rest of the game."
Villa Madonna had no one to match up with Highland 6-foot-5-inch senior center Kyle Finfrock and the Bluebirds took advantage. The consistent Finfrock recorded a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Highland won the rebounding battle, 37-21.
Highlands saw four players reach double figures. Senior Bryce Traylor and junior Jacob Noe followed with 12 each and junior Braden Posey scored 10 points to go with five rebounds, six assists and four steals.
"The most encouraging thing was our guards went back and rebounded," Listerman said. "We got contributions up and down the line. It's important that we stay balanced."
Highlands made 30-of-55 shots for 55 percent including 8-of-21 from three-point range for 38 percent and 7-of-13 free throws for 54 percent. Villa Madonna made 17-of-43 shots for 40 percent including 1-of-9 three-point tries for 11 percent and 8-of-16 free throws for 50 percent.
The Bluebirds face Ludlow (9-13) on Monday at 6 p.m. in the Coaching vs. Cancer game. Highlands Hall of Fame basketball inductees Jaime Walz-Richey, Scott Draud and former Highlands and Northern Kentucky University Head Coach Ken Shields will be honored before the game.
Highlands 62, Dixie Heights 55:
The Ladybirds (16-7) took care of things against the first of two 9th Region opponents within 18 hours of each other.
Highlands moved to 9-2 in region action recording 12 steals on 17 Lady Colonel turnovers while committing 11 turnovers on just five Dixie Heights steals. Sophomore Zoie Barth led Highlands with five steals to go with nine points and six rebounds.
"We wanted to come out, work on our defense and play as a team," Barth said. "I definitely think this is the start of our momentum (going into the postseason). It's February now so it's crunch time and we have to start playing as a team, not take any plays off and play every possession like it's our last (one)."
Senior Jenna Martin led the balanced Highlands scoring attack with 24 points. Martin hit 8-of-17 shots including four from three-point land to go with three steals. She now has more than 1,500 career points playing varsity basketball.
Highlands did play not at 100 percent in the win. Senior Macy Gabbard is out for the season and sophomore Morgan Coffey did not play either.
"We have to learn from this game, build on it and we have to get ready to go (Saturday)," Richey said. "We just want to see progress. Ultimately, we want to go (into the postseason) high and confident in our play."
Highlands made 23-of-55 shots for 42 percent including 4-of-14 from three-point range for 29 percent and 12-of-19 free throws for 63 percent. Dixie Heights hit 21-of-47 shots for 45 percent including 3-of-10 three-point tries for 30 percent and 10-of-14 free throws for 71 percent.
Dixie Heights (10-17) saw sophomore guard Grace Perry score 21 points making 8-of-14 shots and senior guard Kylie Brock score 12 with Sydney Lockard and sophomore Kaylee McGinn scoring eight each. McGinn added 12 rebounds.
Highlands takes on Ryle (13-13) at Noon on Saturday. The Lady Raiders enter the game off a 65-61 defeat against Conner on Wednesday.