The Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team had not won its annual game in the Hoops for Harvest Classic at Dixie Heights the previous two years against out-of-state opponents.
That changed Saturday as the Bluebirds moved to 2-0 on the season with a 60-44 win over the New Carlisle (Ohio) Tecumseh Arrows. Tecumseh is located north of Dayton, Ohio. Highlands led 23-18 at halftime before pulling away in the second half.
"We're still not playing the way that we know we're capable of playing to so we know there's some improvement to be made," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We're going to go back to practice on Monday and try to work on things that we've seen in games that we have to be better at."
Highlands had held its first two opponents in the mid-40s defensively. The Bluebirds limited the Arrows to just three points in the second quarter.
"We played great (defensively)," Richey said. "After that first quarter when we calmed down after we gave up 15 points, we came back in the second quarter and held them to three points then 12 in the third and 14 in the fourth. Once we settled down and played our defense, we had some good rotations to make sure to make sure people didn't get shots that we didn't want them to take."
Experienced senior guard Zoie Barth again led the way for the Bluebirds with 20 points making 8-of-20 shots including one three-pointer and 3-of-5 free throws. Barth also had seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
But on a versatile team that can see a number of players step forward, two others hit double-digits in the scorebook for the first time this year. Junior guard Piper Macke made 3-of-12 shots and 7-of-9 free throws on her way to 15 points and sophomore Rory O'Hara had 12 making 4-of-9 shots and 4-of-5 free throws.
"I feel like we definitely played better the second half," Macke said. "It just kind of took us a while to get into the groove with each other. Obviously, we can make more shots and free throws we were getting. But all that stuff is fixable."
Highlands did rebound better against Tecumseh compared to the season-opening win over St. Henry. The Bluebirds won that battle, 38-32. Senior Hanna Buecker led the way with eight rebounds.
The Bluebirds also had 14 steals off 21 Tecumseh turnovers while yielding five steals off 10 turnovers. Macke led Highlands with four steals and senior Chloe Jansen had three.
Highlands made 19-of-55 shots for 35 percent including 3-of-19 three-pointers for 16 percent and 19-of-30 free throws for 63 percent. Tecumseh made 18-of-42 shots for 43 percent including 4-of-12 three-point tries for 33 percent and 4-of-8 free throws for 50 percent.
Tecumseh saw two players score in double figures. Senior guard Presley Griffitts had 17 and senior guard Corinne Thomas scored 11.
Highlands plays at Dayton on Tuesday to open 36th District play. Game time is 7:30 p.m.