|Bluebirds Win Fourth Straight|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Emma Mallery (23) shoots a free throw in the final seconds against Campbell County on Friday.|
Junior guard Emma Mallery stepped forward to do that with under three seconds left in the game for the Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team (8-6 overall). She made 1-of-2 free throws then intercepted the inbound pass near mid-court to help the Bluebirds preserve a 37-34 victory over the Campbell County Camels (11-6) on Friday.
"At the end, we didn't want them to shoot a three," Mallery said. "Our defense was really good this game. (Junior guard) Emma (Riccobene) was right behind me to catch the ball if I didn't get it. We just all worked together on defense."
The game came down to whoever rotated better on defense. Highlands had three steals, one blocked shot by sophomore center CC Shick, six assists, four turnovers and 10 fouls. Mallery had three assists.
"We talked at halftime that defense is going to have to win this game because our shots weren't falling and it did," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We had some huge stops on defense and were able to rebound the ball for the most part. It was nice to see us not rely just on our offense. We had to grind out a win at the end and we did that."
On the other side, Campbell County won the rebounding battle, 22-21 and had 16 fouls, seven turnovers, three assists and one steal. Three players finished with four fouls each for the Camels.
Neither team shot well. Highlands made 11-of-31 shots for 36 percent including 4-of-17 from three-point range for 24 percent. Campbell County made 13-of-37 shots for 35 percent including 3-of-17 from three-point land for 18 percent.
But Highlands made 11-of-19 free throws for 58 percent compared to 5-of-6 for 83 percent for Campbell County. Only Campbell County senior forward Hope Russell scored on double figures for either team.
Senior guard Piper Macke led Highlands with nine points and two steals. Junior Rory O'Hara followed with seven.
"We told Rory after the game. She had three possessions where she scored or got to the free-throw line and those were huge," Richey said. "We have to try to get her the ball more and she has to make a quick move. When she gets doubled, she's going to kick it out to one of our good shooters."
Highlands led 11-4 after the first quarter. Campbell County trimmed the margin to 14-12 with 4:58 left in the first half. But down the stretch, Shick converted a three-point play. Highlands led 19-14 at halftime.
"The post game has improved a lot," Shick said. "It was a tough win. But I feel like we fought through with our defense and we played really good team basketball. We are working on the mental aspect of the game and I feel we are improving with that."
Highlands played without its second leading scorer in junior Kelsey Listerman. Sophomore Anna Greenwell, senior forward Rylee Thomas and junior guard Kenzie Nehus were also unable to play.
Highlands plays another rivalry game Monday against Notre Dame (13-3). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
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