Story Matters

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Racking Up Wins for Bluebird Hoops

Barth Scores 1,500th Career Point as Both Highlands Teams Win

PHOTO: Jared MacDonald, Maysville Ledger-Independent. Highlands freshman Emma Riccobene (31) shoots between Mason County's Rachel Payne (34) and A.J. Reed (11) in the first half Thursday.
The Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team wanted to go back to taking care of the ball the way the Bluebirds have done in the past unlike what happened in the loss at Cooper on Tuesday.

Highlands (12-6 overall) turned the ball over less and used a nice game defensively to pull away from the Mason County Lady Royals (10-6) by a 46-37 count Thursday in Maysville. Highlands had just 13 turnovers and Mason County had 20.

"It was great," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "In the first half, we did an unbelievable job offensively and defensively. They slowed us down in the second half. We responded and went on our run."

The Bluebirds led 28-17 at halftime. But Mason County figured out the Highlands zone defense better to start the second half and trim the margin to 28-27. But Brooke Dill hit a lay-up with 3:15 left in the quarter and junior Zoie Barth scored her 1,500th point with two free throws to give Highlands a 32-29 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Mason County took a 33-32 lead when junior forward Victoria Brooks scored with 6:39 left in the game. But the Bluebirds clamped down the rest of the game finishing off the Mason County four-game winning streak with a 14-4 run.

Both teams made 14 shots from the floor. But a huge difference came at the free throw line. The Bluebirds made 14-of-39 shots for 36 percent including 3-of-14 from three-point range for 21 percent and 15-of-18 free throws for 83 percent. Mason County made 14-of-37 shots for 38 percent including just 1-of-13 shots from downtown for 8 percent and 8-of-10 free throws for 80 percent.

"I think we ran our offense better and our shots were falling more than the last game," said Emma Riccobene, Highlands freshman guard. "There are always going to be a game where you play bad or some people play bad. It has to be one person that picks everyone up."

Barth led Highlands with 17 points and eight rebounds. Mason County saw freshman Emma Taylor score 12 and senior forward Kara Moran record a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Both teams recorded 26 rebounds each.

Highlands once again played short-handed as junior starter Hanna Buecker along with sophomores Maggie Hinegardner, Meghan Walz and Audrey Graves were not able to play. Junior Ashley Hayes joined the starting line-up along with Barth, Dill, junior Chloe Jansen and freshman Rory O'Hara. But junior Olivia Gessner along with Riccobene and freshman Kenzie Nehus took advantage of the extra playing time.

"It stinks that we're hurt and sick right now," Richey said. "But at least it's January and it gives the younger girls some experience come post-season."

Highlands plays host to the Louisville Assumption Rockets (6-10). Game time is 7:30 p.m. weather permitting.

Basketball, Boys:
Highlands 43, Ryle 40:

The Bluebirds moved back to .500 at 8-8 on the season and improved to 4-4 in 9th Region victory by again making a late lead stand.

The Bluebirds built a 38-29 lead in the fourth quarter. But the Raiders (6-10) made it interesting at the end.

"We just keep finding a way," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "Ultimately, that's as much as you can ask of the kids. If we make our free throws, we walk away with an eight or nine-point win."

Highlands saw two players reach double digits in scoring. Junior Nate Roberts had 15 and Jacob Noe scored 10.

"It's about everyone doing his part and playing as a team and not playing as individuals," said Adam Uhlenbrock, Highlands senior forward. "It's about taking the right shot, making the extra passes when we need to make them and play help side defense. That was pretty much the key to our win."

The Bluebirds made 9-of-12 free throws for 75 percent and the Raiders hit 7-of-8 for 88 percent. Junior guard Jack Hegge hit two in the final seconds to make the final score after senior Griffin Huber tipped the rebound to him after a missed free throw.

"I think we just stepped up to the free-throw line with confidence," Hegge said. "I think we need to bring the energy to practice. That gets us going. When we have good days at practice, that carries on to games and everyone can tell when that happens."

Highlands plays host to the Dayton Greendevils (3-12) in a crucial 36th District game at 7:30 p.m. It is Elementary Hoops Night. Players who wear their team's jersey get into the game for free.

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