Senior Nate Roberts said the Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team players could not let the huge win over Covington Catholic on Monday get into their heads in order to move forward.
The St. Henry Crusaders (1-4 overall) came to Fort Thomas off their first win, 64-50 over the Ryle Raiders on Thursday in Union. Veteran Head Coach Dave Faust's teams usually play hard even when they don't necessarily match up well with opponents. That was again the case Friday in a 9th Region contest.
"When you play a Coach Faust team, you know you're going to get their best effort every single night," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "It's one of the hallmarks of his teams. I told our guys leading up to (Friday) and in the locker room before the game that we had to match their intensity and couldn't get out-efforted. We couldn't allow them to bring more energy and more focus than us. I thought our guys did a very good job of staying in the moment and matching their intensity. We got the ball in the right places at the right times and were pretty successful."
But the Bluebirds pulled away for a fourth region win in as many games in a 76-60 win Friday. Highlands last started 4-0 in the 2009-2010 season.
"Coach (Listerman) has been preaching to us every day that one game is not a season-make," said Austin King, Highlands senior forward. "I think we had a great week of practice. I'm sure everyone can agree. Certainly when you get a win like that, you definitely have to celebrate it and cherish it that night. But once the next day hits, you have to get back to work. We all emphasized that this week. It's about repetition. We trust everything we do in practice. The coaches know each and every position to put each one of us and we just all buy into that and trust everyone on the team. That's how our successes have come."
St. Henry had no answer for Highlands senior power forward Ben Sisson. Sisson made 13-of-19 shots including a three-pointer and 2-of-3 free throws to go with five rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and three steals.
Highlands had nice inside-outside balance. Sophomore point guard Sam Vinson put up 18 points making 6-of-12 shots and 5-of-7 free throws to go with three rebounds, four assists and three steals. Roberts added 10 points.
Listerman also credited the players that came off the bench and contributed for the Bluebirds. Senior wing Tristan Thompson came in and scored eight points.
The Bluebirds made 30-of-58 shots for 52 percent including 5-of-13 three-pointers and 11-of-16 free throws for 69 percent. The Crusaders made 21-of-54 shots for 39 percent including 4-of-15 three-point tries for 27 percent and 14-of-16 free throws for 88 percent.
"We didn't shoot the three very well, but we had good spacing and we got Ben the ball in the right spots where it's hard to double him," Listerman said. "We got good action off the ball where is Ben is unselfish enough and a very good passer that he finds the open guy and then were able to make one more pass. I can't tell you the number of times we made one more and turned down a good shot for a great shot and found some easy baskets, especially late that were critical at keeping them at bay."
The Crusaders also had three players score in double figures. Sophomore forward Wyatt Vieth led the way with 20 points making 8-of-10 free throws and sophomore forward Jude Bessler scored 12. Senior guard Alex Westerbeck added 10 points.
The Bluebirds travel to Oldham County on Saturday to face an undefeated Colonel squad (3-0) in a battle of undefeated teams at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronald McDonald House Classic. Oldham County won the 8th Region last year and advanced to the state semifinals before losing 67-28 to eventual state champion Covington Catholic.