|Highlands Boys Record 15th Win of Season|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. Highlands senior post Ben Sisson (center) dribbles in a recent game. He had 17 points to help the Bluebirds to a 45-43 win over Oldham County.|
But this time in Fort Thomas, Highlands found a way to win at the end, 45-43. Highlands sophomore point guard Sam Vinson took the ball on the left corner, drove the baseline and put the ball up between two Colonel defenders drawing a foul with six seconds left. The ball rolled around the rim before dropping in. Vinson then hit the ensuing free throw to make the final score.
"We drew up a play and once they swung it to me, I saw the gap and drove the gap to the hole," Vinson said. "I saw two people in front of me and I thought I could finish on top of them so I just tried to get (the ball) up there and (finish the shot)."
Highlands moved one step closer to its first winning season since the 2009-10 season when current Highlands girls soccer head coach Alex Dean was a junior. The Bluebirds lost at Oldham County, 58-54 on Dec. 8 for their first loss this season.
"We just talked about keeping on playing. We do some situational stuff in practice where we're down five with two minutes to play and up five with a minute and a half," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "The kids to their credit stayed calm and that was one of the things we talked about before the game. We didn't want to get sped up and we didn't use the word panic in the locker room. We were getting very good looks. We'd have liked to have finished a little more inside. But the kids responded. We made a couple plays down the stretch and were able to pull it out."
Sophomore Deaton Oak put up a three-pointer from the left wing as time expired. But his shot missed.
Vinson scored six points in his first game since the Sandestin Beach Blowout in Freeport (Florida). Senior Ben Sisson did his usual thing with 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Senior Ryan Leigh added eight points.
Highlands lost the rebounding battle, 27-25. But the Bluebirds had some key offensive rebounds down the stretch to win the game. Senior Will Salmon grabbed four including two on the offensive glass.
"We talked about it in a couple timeouts how important it was for us to defensive rebound because really we lost the first game down there by giving up some offensive rebounds," Listerman said. "We did a great job of eliminating them on the offensive glass down the stretch and then, we went and found some. A part of that was tributable to them being in their zone where it's hard to find your block-out assignments and we just came up with them."
The Bluebirds shot the ball a little bit better making 17-of-40 for 43 percent including 2-of-13 from three-point range for 15 percent. The Colonels made 18-of-43 shots for 42 percent including 4-of-16 for 25 percent.
Both teams shot 50 percent. Highlands made 9-of-18 off 15 Colonel fouls and Oldham County made 3-of-6 off 11 Bluebird fouls. Senior Matthew Teague led the Colonels with eight points.
Highlands outscored Oldham County, 8-2 in points off turnovers. Highlands had 11 assists, three blocked shots, five steals and 11 turnovers. Oldham County had seven assists, one blocked shot, six steals and 13 turnovers.
The Bluebirds take on Mason County (10-12) on Senior Night on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Highlands 68, Boone County 32:
The Bluebirds (22-4) led the Lady Rebels (8-13), 19-11 after the first quarter before breaking away, 22-4 in the second quarter to build a 41-15 halftime lead. Highlands has won eight straight and is 10-2 in 9th Region play.
"We passed the ball extremely well and found our teammates that were open," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "They were able to make the shots. We moved the ball better than we did (Friday in the win over Dixie Heights), which was good to see."
Highlands saw four players score in double figures. Senior Zoie Barth again led the way with 19 points and sophomore Rory O'Hara had 15. Junior Maggie Hinegardner scored 13 and senior Chloe Jansen had 10. The Bluebirds led by as many as 36 at one point.
The Bluebirds made 29-of-48 shots for 60 percent including 4-of-9 three-point tries for 44 percent and 6-of-8 free throws for 75 percent. Boone County made 13-of-42 shots for 31 percent including 2-of-19 three-point shots for 11 percent and 4-of-6 free throws for 67 percent. Sophomore guard Skyler Holder led the Lady Rebels with 10 points.
Highlands won the rebounding battle, 26-24. O'Hara and junior Rylee Thomas led the Bluebirds with seven rebounds each.
"As we're getting closer to the post-season, every game is an opportunity to fix the little things just so that we're ready for when the big games come up and we play hard every second," Hinegardner said. "(Boone County) was really aggressive toward the beginning of the game, but I think we did a good job of keeping them contained and getting rebounds and steals and pushing (the ball) up the floor to get out to the lead that we had."
Highalnds also had 20 assists, 13 steals, two blocked shots, 10 fouls and 11 turnovers compared to two assists, seven steals, no blocked shots, eight fouls and 18 turnovers. Barth had eight assists with Jansen recording four steals and O'Hara three.
"We talked about it before the game. I think all these girls would rather play a game instead of practice so I tried to explain that to the girls," Richey said. "Be excited. It's better than practice and you get to go out and compete against someone beside each other."
The Bluebirds play host to Covington Holmes on Monday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.