|Bluebird Boys Take Down Alabama Team|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Meghan Walz watches after a Henry Clay shot Thursday at Conner.|
Thus, it was nice to give them some down time for most of the second half Thursday to open the LaRosa's Holiday Classic at Conner. Highlands (10-2 overall) built a 45-18 halftime lead against the Lexington Henry Clay Blue Devils (6-6) and cruised to a 76-47 victory.
Ten different Bluebirds scored in the game. Highlands senior guard Zoie Barth again led the way with 23 points moving just three points shy of 2,000 points for her career. Barth made 8-of-13 shots including three three-point shots to go with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
"We played solid defense and made the extra pass when we needed to," Richey said. "I challenged the girls because playing in a tournament near your home area can be a bad experience just because you're out of your flow. They came ready to play, which was good to see."
Senior Hanna Buecker scored 11 points for the Bluebirds. She also had two steals.
Highlands had 14 steals off 18 Blue Devil turnovers while yielding two steals off six turnovers. Junior Piper Macke, freshman Anna Greenwell and sophomore Rory O'Hara also had two steals for the Bluebirds. Greenwell scored nine points and O'Hara had eight.
Fourteen different Bluebirds saw action overall. That included sophomore forward Emma Riccobene.
"Varsity minutes are kind of limited for freshmen and sophomores," Riccobene said. "When I go out there, I try to give it my all. It's an opportunity to give myself more minutes and prove myself in the last couple years (in high school basketball) I have at Highlands."
Highlands made 28-of-54 shots for 52 percent including 5-of-11 from three-point range for 46 percent and 15-of-19 free throws for 79 percent. Henry Clay hit 20-of-51 shots for 39 percent including 5-of-14 from three-point land for 36 percent and 2-of-6 free throws for 33 percent.
The Bluebirds also won the rebounding battle, 32-26 and had 18 assists to three for the Blue Devils. Senior Chloe Jansen had six assists to lead Highlands.
Henry Clay saw two different players score in double figures. Senior Kiya Thompson led the way with 23 and freshman Amiyha Jenkins had 12.
The Bluebirds take on defending 3rd Region champion Owensboro Catholic (8-3) on Friday at 1:30 p.m. The winner takes on either Conner or Simon Kenton at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for the tournament championship. Highlands last won this tournament three years ago.
Highlands 75, Troy (Alabama) Charles Henderson 51:
The Bluebirds (7-3 overall) snapped a two-game losing streak with a win to open the Hilton Sandestin Beach Basketball Blowout in Destin (Florida).
Senior forward Ryan Leigh led the way with 21 points making five three-pointers. Senior post Ben Sisson followed with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Leigh also had three steals.
Highlands made 30-of-49 shots for 61 percent including 7-of-14 three-point shots and 8-of-10 free throws. The Trojans made 21-of-51 shots for 41 percent including 7-of-15 from three-point range for 47 percent and just 2-of-5 free throws for 40 percent.
"They were athletic," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "We challenged our kids at halftime that if we held them to 40 percent shooting in the second half that we would win the game. We came out and I think we held them to 15 percent in the third quarter and I think we got them under 40 percent for the game in the third and fourth quarter. I was really pleased with how our kids came out. We controlled the game, especially in the second half."
Charles Henderson won the rebounding battle, 27-24. But Highlands had 19 assists, eight steals and just five turnovers to 12 assists, one steal and 17 turnovers for the Trojans. Sophomore Sam Vinson had five assists to lead the Bluebirds.
"We worked on keeping them off the three-point line," Leigh said. "In the beginning, they were getting a lot of wide-open threes so we decided to close out quicker in the second half. They couldn't really score inside because Ben (Sisson) was blocking everything."
Highlands takes on Anniston (Alabama) White Plains at 3 p.m. Friday. The tournament concludes Monday.