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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Highlands Hoops Earns Huge Win over County Rival

Bluebirds Ranked 10th in State

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore forward Oliver Harris gets in defensive position in a recent game.
Of the six in-county opponents entering Saturday, the Associated Press' 10th-ranked Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (16-1 overall) had only not beaten one since Head Coach Kevin Listerman took over the program in 2013.

That happened to be the largest high school in the county in the Campbell County Camels (8-9). But that changed at Russell Bridges Gym on Saturday as the Bluebirds downed the Camels, 71-54.



Highlands ended a five-game losing streak in the series as a result. The Bluebirds last beat the Camels, 56-52 in Fort Thomas on Jan. 17, 2013.

Since then, Campbell County, under the guidance of Head Coach Aric Russell, has won the 10th Region Tournament four times in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. The Camels advanced the furthest of those four appearances in the state tournament last year going to the state semifinals before losing 42-40 to eventual state champion Louisville Trinity.

"Coach Russell has done a phenomenal job building that program," Listerman said. "I thought we had a lot of guys play very, very solid. Our bench was really productive. I was very pleased with that."

Highlands did it with another solid performance from junior point guard Sam Vinson. Vinson made 6-of-7 free throws on his way to 25 points. He added 12 rebounds for another double-double to go with five assists, six steals and one blocked shot.

Seven different Bluebirds scored. But senior guard Hunter Ahlfeld recorded a career-high 20 points making 8-of-11 shots to go with five rebounds and two assists.

Senior Jack Delagrange made his first start of the season. Listerman credited Delagrange and junior guard Evan Rom for their defense on Campbell County senior guard Jordan Gross making Gross earn all 17 points. Gross also had 10 rebounds for a double-double. Rom scored eight points and Listerman said sophomore forward Oliver Harris recorded solid play.

Highlands did play its first full game without senior guard Jacob Brass. Brass is out for the season.

"It was a very big win," said Bryson Cody, Highlands junior forward. "As a team, we played together. We put (Brass') jersey at the front of our bench. He wasn't there. We really needed him. But we overcame that."

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The Bluebirds made 25-of-53 shots for 47 percent including 8-of-20 from three-point range for 40 percent and 13-of-16 free throws for 81 percent. Highlands also had 35 rebounds, 12 assists, 19 fouls, five turnovers, two blocked shots and nine steals.

The Camels made 17-of-47 shots for 36 percent including 7-of-14 from three-point range for 50 percent and 13-of-15 free throws for 87 percent. Campbell County also had 27 rebounds, five assists, 18 fouls, 12 turnovers and one steal. Junior forward Dane Hegyi scored 14 and junior guard Garrett Beiting scored 11.

"They run their stuff and they run it very well," Listerman said. "A week ago (Jan. 10), they got a big win over St. Henry at their place so they're very capable. We did a good job with our pressure to generate some offense in the first quarter. Then I thought in the second quarter, we really dictated the tempo and you could see our guys gaining strength and confidence as the first half wore on. We were able to stretch the lead to double digits. Then our defense in the second half was phenomenal. Then we were able to knock down enough shots to keep them at bay."


Highlands plays host to Boone County (4-13) on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.



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