|Bluebirds Win on Senior Night|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands freshman guard Alyssa Harris brings the ball up the court in a recent game.|
The Walton-Verona Bearcats (18-6) came to Fort Thomas a few weeks after finishing runner-up in the All "A" State Tournament at Eastern Kentucky University. But Highlands withstood the challenge in a 51-46 victory.
The four seniors started for the Bluebirds in guards Piper Macke, Maggie Hinegardner and forwards Rylee Thomas and Meghan Walz. Hinegardner led the way with 11 points with Macke and junior forward Kelsey Listerman scoring 10 each.
"It's a great win, especially for our four seniors," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "To win on Senior Night is always nice. Each one of (the seniors) came in and gave us a lift offensively and did some good things defensively."
Macke also had four steals, three rebounds and an assist. Listerman had four assists and two steals. Junior forward Rory O'Hara had nine points, four rebound, four assists, three steals and blocked two shots. Freshman point guard Alyssa Harris had four rebounds.
"What we learned is we have to take each play as it comes. We needed to take each possession and value it because it could change the game drastically," Harris said. "We made the most of it while we had (the ball)."
Highlands made 18-of-38 shots for 47 percent including 5-of-18 from three-point range for 28 percent and 10-of-13 free throws for 77 percent. The Bluebirds also had 21 rebounds, 13 fouls, 15 turnovers, 13 assists, two blocked shots and 10 steals.
Senior power forward Emma Strunk led Walton-Verona with 17 points and senior guard Addisyn Michael scored 10. Strunk also had seven rebounds.
"We knew we wanted them to stay out of the paint," Richey said. "We know they like to drive and kick to their three-point shooters. They also have (Strunk) inside, who can post up hard and score. It was a tough team. But the girls did a good job of playing tough defense and getting rebounds when we needed to."
The Bearcats made 14-of-42 shots for 33 percent including 5-of-22 from three-point range for 23 percent and 13-of-14 free throws for 93 percent. Walton-Verona also had 26 rebounds, 17 fouls, 14 turnovers, five assists and nine steals.
The Bluebirds led 15-9 after the first quarter and 25-22 at halftime. Highlands led just 37-36 entering the fourth quarter.
Highlands sophomore forward Megan Gessner has been dressing varsity some with injuries to other players. She's taken that opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed on that level.
"I'm trying to learn leadership and effort to bring our team to greatness," Gessner said. "I'm trying to be a good addition to the team and always cheer on my teammates. I think it's good we're all best friends and everybody loves each other. We can all cheer each other on and make each other happy when we're not happy always lifting everyone up."
The Bluebirds have a tough challenge on Friday against Louisville Butler Bearettes (19-4) at 7:30 p.m. Butler is ranked fourth in the latest Associated Press poll.
State Bowling Results:
Highlands seniors Jordan Cole and Gunner Gabbard played in the boys singles state tournament at Executive Strike and Spare in Louisville on Thursday.
Neither made the semifinals. Cole finished 10th bowling a total of 650 falling five pins shy of the semifinals. Gabbard finished 26th out of 32 bowlers shooting a 538.
In the Unified State Tournament, Highlands seniors Luke Laskey and Perry Daniel bowled a 148 to earn the second seed out of 14 teams earning a bye into the state quarterfinals. But a Scott County team defeated them, 142-137.
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