|Bluebirds Record Largest Margin of Victory This Season|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior forward Megan Calme looks to make a pass in the game against Robertson County on Thursday.|
The Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team knew this could be a game where many players could come in and develop as long the players did not fall into a huge temptation.
That's looking at the opponent and thinking, "Oh, they're no good. We can take the day off." That did not happen as the Bluebirds (4-5 overall) took care of the struggling Robertson County Lady Devils (0-11), 76-39 Thursday afternoon at Russell Bridges Gymnasium. It is the largest margin of victory for Highlands this season.
"That was my challenge before the game. We had to give effort every single time we stepped out onto the court," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We have to go, go, go. We can't jog. We can't be loafing it. We have to play hard every single second we're out there and I thought the girls did an outstanding job of doing that."
Highlands took advantage of its athleticism finding a lot of easy paths to the basket as 10 different Bluebirds scored. Highlands made 32-of-67 shots for 48 percent including 5-of-22 from three-point range for 23 percent and 7-of-12 free throws for 58 percent.
"We've had a lot of practice time working on our skills just making sure the girls understand what our strength is," Richey said. "We have to be able to get the posts touches and let them kick it out before we just start shooting a bunch of threes."
Freshman 6-foot-2-inch center Marissa Green led the way with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Meg Gessner followed with 14 points and freshman forward Adrienne Harris scored 10. Sophomore center Kasey Gross, freshman guard Ellie Mohr and eighth grade guards Saylor Macke and Kaylee Mills scored seven points each.
Highlands had 31 rebounds, 18 assists, 19 steals and 11 turnovers. Gessner had a team-high four assists. Mills, Macke and sophomore guard Laney Smith had three steals each. Junior forward Megan Calme had six rebounds. The Bluebirds responded well when things did not go their way.
"Something we tell each other is forget and focus," Smith said. "Just go on with the play. It's how you respond to the play, not what happens on the play. So if you get blocked like I did a couple times, just get back on defense. That's what (Richey) teaches us and it works out well in games."
Highlands is almost healthy. Richey said the lone returning starter from last year in junior point guard Alyssa Harris has been cleared to resume some team activities and hopes to make her season debut soon. She also said junior guard Elie Walz will be returning soon as well.
But players such as Mohr have made the most of their opportunities to adjust to the varsity level. Mohr has seven made triples on the season, which is second behind Gessner's eight.
"It's really about reading the defense and everything being faster and stronger," Mohr said. "It was a hard adjustment, but we're growing. I'm really excited for Alyssa to be back. (Seeing shots go in) makes your confidence grow a lot. You kind of go on a run and your adrenaline goes. You want to keep going and shooting the ball."
Robertson County did see two players score in double figures making 4-of-7 free throws for 57 percent. Sophomore guards Krysta Hamm and Ruby Gay scored 13 and 11 points respectively. Hamm came in averaging 17.5 points per game and Gay averaged 12.2.
Robertson County has just one senior in power forward Abby Earlywine. The closest the Lady Devils have come to a win this year is a 65-57 loss at Augusta on Dec. 6.
Highlands led 15-7 after the first quarter and 39-19 at halftime. The Bluebirds enforced the running clock in the second half leading 64-28 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bluebirds take on the Ryle Lady Raiders (10-3) on Jan. 5. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
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