While they had a chance entering the fourth quarter trailing just 47-41, the Highlands Bluebirds basketball team (9-12 overall, 2-1 district) could not match the balance of the 36th District arch-rival Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (11-7, 2-0) in a 62-47 defeat Tuesday. NewCath extended its win streak to 13 straight in the series.
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The huge difference in the game came in the rebounding department. NewCath won it convincingly 40-23 including 17 offensive boards. Junior guard Brennan Hall paced the Thoroughbreds with 17 points and nine rebounds with senior guard Luke Moeves contributing 13 points and senior forward Trey Wurtz recording 10 points and eight rebounds.
"We did not eliminate the second rebounder and they got a lot of second-chance points, a lot of second-chance possessions," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "That was really the difference in the game."
Highlands senior center Kyle Finfrock had another solid game with 22 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. But the next scorers for Highlands in junior guard Braden Posey and senior guard Bryce Traylor scored seven points each.
"We have to shoot the ball well in order for us to beat teams," Listerman said. "They did a really good job of closing out on our shooters and make life difficult. They made it difficult on our ability to drive and get to the rim. All the credit to them. They came in with a great game plan and executed it and their kids stepped up and made plays."
The rebounding difference let NewCath put up nine more shots. The Thoroughbreds made 22-of-50 for 44 percent and 15-of-22 free throws for 68 percent compared to 17-of-41 shots for 41 percent for Highlands.
The Bluebirds had their chances at the free-throw line. But they only made 11-of-21 for 52 percent.
The game stayed close in the first quarter. Posey made a three-pointer from the right wing with three seconds left to tie the game at 16.
But NewCath went ahead for good in the second quarter. The Thoroughbreds built the advantage to 35-25 with under a minute to go. But Finfrock had a three-point play to cut the lead to 35-28 at halftime.
The Thoroughbreds extended the lead to 10 once in the third quarter. Carl Schoellman drew a foul on a three-point try with 1.7 seconds left and hit 2-of-3 free throws to make it 47-41 NewCath entering the fourth quarter.
Highlands made some defensive stops to start the fourth quarter, but could not score. The Thoroughbreds used a 7-0 run to go up 54-41 and never let the lead slip below 10.
Highlands hopes to lock up at least the second seed in the district tournament Friday against the Bellevue Tigers (6-13, 0-2). Game time is 7:30 p.m.