|Bluebirds Snap Four-Game Losing Skid to Lady Cougars|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Rory O'Hara dribbles near mid-court in the win over Conner on Tuesday.|
Everything seemed to be going against the Bluebirds at that point in a loosely-called game. But Highlands fought back to pick up a huge 64-54 victory over the Conner Lady Cougars (14-10). The loss snapped a four-game losing streak to Conner dating back to the last Bluebird win, 54-36 in Hebron on Dec. 13, 2016.
"It's a great win for us," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We just stayed the course. They continued to believe in each other. They continued to play defense and rebound the ball better in the second half and also, take care of the ball better down the stretch."
Highlands has won 12 of its last 13 games. On the other side, Conner and first-year Head Coach Michelle Gambrel have lost 7-of-8 after starting the season 13-3.
The Bluebirds came back with balance. Junior forward Kelsey Listerman led the way with 17 points making all five shots including three three-pointers and all four free throws. Senior point guard Piper Macke scored 13 points to go with four steals and junior forward Rory O'Hara had 10 points and five rebounds.
"It's important to just keep driving, dishing and hitting the open person or hitting someone who is hot," Listerman said. "That's what we did."
Seven different players scored for Highlands. Junior forward Emma Riccobene had nine points and two assists with senior guard Maggie Hinegardner scoring eight points.
The Bluebirds made 20-of-36 shots for 56 percent including 11-of-19 from three-point range for 58 percent and 13-of-14 free throws for 58 percent. Highlands also had 16 rebounds, 13 fouls, seven turnovers, 11 assists, one blocked shot and seven steals.
Conner starts things offensively with senior centers Tyra Murphy and Maddie Drummonds, a Campbellsville University commit. Murphy had been averaging 17 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and Drummonds 11.8 and 6.8 rebounds a contest.
Murphy finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. But Highlands held Drummonds to three points and two rebounds. Drummonds also had a blocked shot.
Highlands sophomore 6-foot center CC Shick helped against the duo at times. Shick had three rebounds, a blocked shot and steal.
"We knew once Murphy or Drummonds got the ball, we had to go double them then make sure we had active hands so any passes, we would get deflections," Richey said. "The girls did a great job of that."
The Lady Cougars do have some guards that can shoot from outside. Senior guard Georgia Craddock had 10 points making two triples and senior guard Emily Zorich made two more three-pointers.
Conner made 21-of-45 shots for 47 percent including 6-of-16 three-point tries for 38 percent and 6-of-7 free throws for 86 percent. The Lady Cougars also had 20 rebounds, 13 fouls, 10 turnovers, five assists, one blocked shot and three steals.
Highlands led 22-12 after the first quarter, but Conner came back to go up 33-31 at halftime. Hinegardner scored just 37 seconds into the second half to tie the game at 33 before the Lady Cougars scored eight in a row to go up 41-33 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
After Listerman and Craddock traded threes, Highlands senior forward Meghan Walz made a three from the left corner and Listerman scored again to trim the Conner lead to 44-41 entering the fourth quarter. Walz also had an assist and steal.
"In the second half, we really picked up our defense and we started driving to the basket, which led to open shots for our teammates," Walz said. "We've really been working hard in practice making better decisions as we're driving."
Highlands took the lead with 5:05 left in the fourth quarter at 48-47 when Riccobene scored. After a Murphy score, Macke made a triple to give Highlands the lead for good at 51-49 with 4:16 left in the game. Following a Listerman score, Highlands made 11-of-12 free throws to finish the game.
Highlands faces Walton-Verona (18-5) on Thursday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
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