Story Matters

Story Matters

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Rough District Road Loss for Bluebirds

NewCath Pulls Away for Victory

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Nate Roberts makes a move in a recent game.
Head Coach Kevin Listerman said guarding the opposing team's best player better will be a major focus the next couple weeks before entering the 36th District Tournament in Fort Thomas.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (9-10 overall) again struggled with it in an 81-66 loss to the host Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (11-8) on Tuesday. The Thoroughbreds have won 15 in a row in the series and 17 of the last 19. Highlands fell to 1-2 in district play.

The Bluebirds could not contain NewCath senior guard Brennan Hall. Hall scored 27 and teammate Braden Posey added 24. Posey started at point guard for Highlands the past couple seasons before transferring to NewCath.

"When your best player shows up and knocks shots down early, guys are able to relax," Listerman said. "Brennan played a great game (Tuesday), especially coming off his injury. He was the key."

Highlands junior post Ben Sisson almost had a double-double keeping the Bluebirds in the game for a while. Sisson had 21 points and nine rebounds with junior Alex Starkey scoring 14. Sisson scored 11 in the first half.

"They turned up their pressure," Listerman said. "They ran a lot more run-and-jump in the second half so it's harder to run our offense. We did not make the same attack and finish that we did in the first half. That's a credit to them because they made the adjustment and we didn't finish the plays. They were able to build their lead there in the third quarter and knock some shots down. Then we kind of had to scramble from behind."

NewCath hit 24-of-50 shots for 48 percent including 6-of-15 from three-point range for 40 percent. The Thoroughbreds also made 31-of-46 free throws for 67 percent.

On the other side, Highlands made 24-of-58 shots for 41 percent including 4-of-15 from three-point range for 27 percent. The Bluebirds also hit 14-of-24 free throws for 58 percent.

The Bluebirds led 21-18 after one quarter. Starkey hit two free throws and Robby Gabbard added another in the final minutes to give Highlands the lead.

But NewCath came back and went up 33-29 at halftime. That lead hit double digits in the second half.

But Highlands won the junior varsity contest, 58-46. Hunter Ahlfeld led Highlands with 25 points. Ryan Leigh had 15 and Sam Vinson scored 10. Junior Spencer Macke is still waiting to be declared eligible to play varsity after transferring from Covington Holy Cross in the off-season. Macke earned JV Most Valuable Player honors at Holy Cross last year averaging 22 points per game.

"I feel like I'm back with my band of brothers again," Macke said. "I'm happy where I am. I just wish I could play varsity. They (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) added the rule (on Nov. 18, 2016) where if you can't play varsity, you can play JV and I think that's a good thing."

Highlands plays at Bellevue on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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