|Highlands Earns Road Victories|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Alex Starkey (32) sets up for a free-throw attempt in a recent game.|
Like two years ago, the Bluebirds (10-10 overall) found themselves in a battle with the host Bellevue Tigers (9-12) in a 36th District battle. But Highlands did enough to pull off the 53-49 win Friday and finish 2-2 in 36th District play.
"Obviously, we would like to have played a little better," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "But for the most part, I was really proud of our defense for three quarters of the game. We had a lapse in the third quarter between our defensive focus and turning the ball over, which gave them the lead and a lot of confidence. But to our kids credit, we refocused, played a really solid fourth quarter and came away with the win."
Junior Ben Sisson again led Highlands with 11 points and five rebounds. The Bluebirds made 20-of-44 shots for 45 percent and 7-of-21 three-point tries for 33 percent. Highlands also made 6-of-11 free throws for 55 percent.
"I really think we're looking ahead," said Sam Vinson, Highlands freshman guard. "We've already won 10 games. As the years progress, we're going to get better. When we run our offense, we're good."
Highlands hoped to defend the opposing team's best players better in this game. The Bluebirds held junior Tom Ratterman to 3-of-6 shooting for seven points. But senior Brett Maehren hit 9-of-20 shots on his way to 21 points. Listerman also credited senior Griffin Huber for nice defense on Ratterman and sophomore Hunter Ahlfeld for some nice defense on both Ratterman and Maehren.
Bellevue made 20-of-56 shots for 35 percent including 4-of-15 from three-point range for 27 percent. The Tigers also made 6-of-8 free throws for 75 percent.
Highlands saw 32 of its 53 points come from players off the bench. Junior Jack Hegge led the way there with eight points. Junior Ryan Leigh and senior Carl Schoellman scored six points each off the bench.
"We had a lot of guys step up and make plays, especially in the fourth quarter," Listerman said. "We talk about being a complete team. We don't know who is going to step up. The guys have to be ready to get their names called and make positive contributions. It was our younger guys who did it. It was nice to see them do that."
Bellevue won the rebounding battle, 34-32. Senior Tyler Gulley also had five rebounds for the Bluebirds.
Highlands plays at Covington Catholic (18-4) on Monday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Highlands 66, Newport 41:
Highlands (15-6 overall) pulled away from the host Newport Ladycats (13-9) in the second half. The Bluebirds won their 22nd straight against 36th District opponents in both seed and tournament play. Newport is 1-2 in district action.
The Bluebirds led 27-21 at halftime. But Highlands outscored Newport, 21-6 in the third quarter to go up 48-27 entering the fourth quarter.
"You have to go into every game (treating opponents) like they're the best team," said Meghan Walz, Highlands sophomore forward. "You never play well if you just assume you're going to win. It was pretty much after the first half, things started to go right. We played a lot better defense and we were more aggressive driving. But we were also smarter not to drive into three or four people."
Highlands saw nine players score. Junior Zoie Barth again led the way scoring near her average with 22 points to go with five steals and an assist. Junior Chloe Jansen and freshman Rory O'Hara followed with 13 and 12 respectively.
Highlands pressured Newport into 27 turnovers and recorded 17 steals off them. Senior Brooke Dill also had five steals to go with a team-high six rebounds.
Newport made 17-of-42 shots for 41 percent including 2-of-13 from three-point range for 15 percent compared to 22-of-61 for 36 percent overall and 6-of-22 from three-point range for 27 percent for Highlands. But the Bluebirds made 16-of-17 free throws for 94 percent and Newport made 5-of-10 for 50 percent.
Both teams recorded 31 rebounds. Freshman Mya Meredith led the Ladycats with 12 points and senior Morgan McDay had a team-high six rebounds.
Highlands plays host to Louisville Assumption (7-13) on Saturday. Game time is 3 p.m.