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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Highlands Hoops Claims Another Holiday Tournament Crown

Bluebirds Hit Double-Digit Wins

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior point guard Sam Vinson brings the ball up the court during a recent game.
The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team heads into the new year with not just one tournament title, but two.

Host Highlands finished the 2019 portion of the schedule undefeated at 10-0 with another convincing 91-57 victory over the Louisville Waggener Wildcats (6-6 overall) on Saturday at Russell Bridges Gym to claim the Carespring Holiday Classic. The Bluebirds claimed the Mike Reitz Classic at Harrison County a week ago.

"Waggener is a good ballclub," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "They've lost to some pretty good teams in and around Louisville (including Male). I thought it was going to be a really good challenge for our guys. It was just really good to see us do that."

This marks the eighth game that the Bluebirds have scored 85 or more points. Highlands has scored 91 or more points five times this season including the last three victories.

The two leading scorers for Highlands once again paved the way. Junior point guard Sam Vinson made 15-of-19 shots including 3-of-4 three-point shots and 7-of-7 free throws on his way to 40 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists and six steals.

Junior Luke Muller followed with 15 points to go with three assists for Highlands. Senior Hunter Ahlfeld scored 12 and sophomore Zach Barth had nine. Barth had four assists and Ahlfeld three. Listerman has continuously praised the three seniors in Ahlfeld, guard Jacob Brass and forward Jack Delagrange plus Vinson and Muller for making sure everyone is ready to play on a daily basis. Listerman commended Brass for his defense on Waggener senior point guard Dallas Rufus holding Rufus to eight points. He also commended Ahlfeld and junior forward Bryson Cody on defense.

"I think the main reason we've been so successful this year is our practices," Ahlfeld said. "Our practices are great every single day. I think each one of us has taken on a responsibility. Once we all do our jobs, the team is more effective. That's how those points have come every night."

Highlands made 32-of-50 shots for 64 percent including 12-of-19 three-point tries for 63 percent. The Bluebirds also hit 15-of-20 free throws for 75 percent and had 32 rebounds, seven fouls, 20 assists, five turnovers, four blocked shots and nine steals.

"This group has a very high ceiling," Listerman said. "There are things that we can definitely do better. They love to compete and that's something you don't instill in kids, but this group has it."

Waggener made 24-of-53 shots for 45 percent including 7-of-19 triples for 37 percent and 2-of-3 free throws for 67 percent. The Wildcats also made 18 rebounds, 14 fouls, five assists and 12 turnovers. Senior Richard White led the Wildcats with 13 points.

Highlands plays in one more holiday tournament starting Thursday at Louisville Eastern. The Bluebirds face the Louisville Central Yellow Jackets (4-5) in the City of Middletown Holiday Classic at 4 p.m.

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