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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Highlands Reaches Another Win Plateau

Bluebirds Have Four Games Left in Regular Season

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior point guard Sam Vinson (3) makes a move in a recent game. Vinson scored 40 points as the Bluebirds reached 21 wins in a season for the first time since 2009 with an 83-72 win over the Dixie Heights Colonels.
The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team had not won 21 games in a season since posting that win total in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009.

That changed Tuesday when the Bluebirds (21-2 overall) knocked off the Dixie Heights Colonels (5-18), 83-72. Highlands moved to 9-2 in 9th Region play with the win.

The 2008-09 Highlands team that included current Highlands head girls soccer coach Alex Dean finished 21-9 losing 76-54 to Newport Central Catholic in the district championship game. The Bluebirds then recorded their last 9th Region Tournament win by a 71-52 margin over St. Henry in the quarterfinals before falling 55-47 to Boone County in the region semifinals. Highlands last won the district title in 2008. Willie Schlarman was the head coach of both teams.

"We're having a great season so far," said Hunter Ahlfeld, Highlands senior guard. "I think our team chemistry is what gets us there. We have a chance to do something big and make a change around here. That's what I was hoping for in the preseason."

Junior point guard Sam Vinson put up another monster night with 40 points for Highlands making three three-pointers and junior forward Luke Muller scored 22 making six three-pointers. The Bluebirds also saw senior forward Jack Delagrange score 10 and Ahlfeld score seven. Highlands made 10 triples total and led 41-31 at halftime.

"We are doing a lot of good things offensively," Listerman said. "We're so efficient on offense that we maybe tend to loose focus defensively. Certainly at this time of year, that can happen. We put in a couple wrinkles offensively. I like the way the kids have responded with that. We're still moving the ball and finding open guys. To be honest, I'd like for us to finish better. I'd like to see a couple more guys in the scoring column and there are opportunities there for that."

But an area of concern for Highlands comes on defense with its pressure. Listerman agreed the Bluebirds need to do a better job of trapping to contain.

"Teams have scouted and they made adjustments so we have to counter with a couple things," Listerman said. "When we handle the sort of on-the-fly adjustments and the reads that our guys have to make, we look really good in our press. When we do it wrong right now, we're giving up a lot of easy baskets. That being said. We've generated a lot of offense out of our defense all year long and we have the last couple games as well. We've been successful playing fast and forcing teams to play fast and we're not going to make drastic changes with that."

Dixie Heights has posted consecutive wins just once this season. The red Colonels are just 2-8 in region play.

The red Colonels had two players score in double figures. Junior Ian Snelling led the way with 26 points and sophomore Keirnan Geraci scored 14. Dixie Heights made just two triples.

Highlands plays host to Cooper (7-12) on Feb. 11. Game time is 7:30 p.m. The Bluebirds have only beaten the Jaguars once in school history. That came by an 85-49 score on Dec. 11, 2008 during Cooper's first season as a school. The Jaguars won just twice that season.

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