|Bluebirds Pull Away from Tigers|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior forward Bryson Cody gets in position in a recent game.|
Highlands reached 24 wins in a season for the first time since the 2002-03 season. That team finished 27-3, won the 36th District crown before losing 54-46 to Simon Kenton in the 9th Region semifinals at Ryle.
Highlands senior guard Hunter Ahlfeld led the way making 6-of-7 three-point tries for 20 points. Junior point guard Sam Vinson followed with 18 and junior forward Luke Muller scored 17 with sophomore guard Zach Barth scoring eight.
"It's important for us to knock those shots down to get leads on teams," Barth said. "We often kick it out for three. All the summer workouts and everything we've been doing is showing on the court."
The Bluebirds made 30-of-55 shots for 55 percent including 13-of-28 three-point tries for 47 percent and 5-of-8 free throws for 63 percent. Highlands also had 34 rebounds, 12 fouls, 17 assists, 10 turnovers, three blocked shots and six steals.
"I thought our defensive focus was really good, especially in the second half," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "We did a great job on the defensive glass and limited them to one shot. I felt we really challenged their shots and just controlled the game. We did a good job of making the extra pass to get good looks whether it was inside or kicking it for threes. We knocked down shots."
Highlands held Beechwood junior Scotty Draud to 13 points. Draud came in averaging just under 24 points per game. Junior Cam Hergott scored 14 with senior Brandon Hughes and junior Will Downton scoring 11 each.
"We guarded him man-to-man with Sam (Vinson) a lot then we threw other guys at him a little bit," Listerman said of guarding Draud. "We did a good job with our switching when we went to (the zones) and we did a good job with our match-ups. As many different looks as you can throw at a guy like that, the better. Our kids did a good job of making his shots difficult. It was a total team effort defensively and really we've been preaching to our guys about making it difficult for the other team's best player. We responded and had a great practice (Thursday). Our guys were really focused."
The Tigers made 24-of-53 shots for 45 percent including 9-of-22 three-point tries for 41 percent and 6-of-9 free throws for 67 percent. Beechwood also had 22 rebounds, 10 fouls, 16 assists, 12 turnovers, two blocked shots and five steals.
Highlands plays in the 36th District semifinals on Wednesday at Newport against either Dayton (10-19) or Bellevue (3-24). Game time is 6 p.m.