|Highlands Earns Another 9th Region Win|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Jacob Brass (rights) get down in defensive position in a recent game.|
Another one in Erlanger on Friday led to an impressive 55-34 9th Region win over the Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts (15-7). Highlands has won seven of its last eight games and is 11-2 in region play. Lloyd Memorial has lost three straight and is 8-4 in region play.
"You like for your seniors to step up and raise their level of practice and focus," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "I felt like we had a couple good days of practice leading into (Friday). At this point of time, you are who you are as a team. You try to fine-tune things. The biggest thing is having guys understand their roles and excel in the things that you ask them to do. I felt especially defensively, we did that."
The Bluebirds held the top three Juggernaut scorers in junior 6-foot-3-inch forward Treshawn Cody, junior guard Tyler Szabo and sophomore forward Tyrese Davis to five, 10 and two points respectively. Cody, Szabo and Davis averaged 18.3, 13.6 and 10.6 points per game respectively entering the game. Listerman credited senior Alex Starkey for his defense on Cody and senior Nate Roberts for his defense on Davis.
"They have one of the most impressive athletes in the region (in Cody)," Listerman said. "He shoots the three at 31 percent and shoots from the floor overall right at 50 percent.
The Juggernauts made just 11-of-43 shots for 26 percent including 4-of-13 three-point tries for 31 percent and 8-of-10 free throws for 80 percent. Senior guard Darian Jackson also scored 10 for Lloyd Memorial. The Juggernauts also had seven steals, six assists, three blocked shots, 15 turnovers and 11 fouls.
On the other side, Lloyd Memorial could not stop the two main Highlands scorers. Senior guard Ryan Leigh scored 17 points and senior post Ben Sisson had another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Nate Roberts added eight.
Highlands won the rebounding battle, 34-26. Roberts finished second behind Sisson with six rebounds.
The Bluebirds made 22-of-50 shots for 44 percent including 5-of-16 from three-point range for 31 percent and 6-of-8 free throws for 75 percent. Highlands also had 15 assists, five steals, three blocked shots, 13 fouls and 12 turnovers. Sisson and Roberts had three assists each and Sisson blocked two shots.
Highlands led 11-9 after one and 26-20 at halftime. The Bluebirds took a 42-29 entering the fourth quarter.
The reserves got in the game in the fourth quarter. Junior Hunter Ahlfeld among others help the main players in the rotation prepare for games.
"In practice, I like to go as hard as I can," Ahlfeld said. "I take as many shots as I can to push the seniors as much they can possibly be pushed because we don't know who is going to go off on the opposite team every night. They just have to be ready for (opponents)."
Highlands travels to Covington Holy Cross on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Highlands Girls Win First-Ever State Contest:
In their sixth appearance in the state tournament at Executive Strike and Spare in Louisville, the Highlands girls had a huge first in a first-round win over Harrison County, 3-0 (153-136, 171-139, 203-170) Friday. Highlands had not advanced past the first round in the five previous appearances in the state tournament.
Highlands shot a 762 in the qualifying rounds to earn the 15th seed. The Bluebirds lost to Region 5 rival Campbell County, 3-0 (198-143, 151-133, 168-149) in the state quarterfinals. Campbell County finished state runner-up to Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park.
In the singles tournament on Friday, Highlands sophomore Abby Bach made it to the semifinals shooting a 632 in the qualifying rounds. But she did not make it to the stepladder round. Senior Emerel Woody also bowled in the singles tournament and seventh-grader Alex Bach bowled in the boys singles tournament, but did not make it to the semifinals.