|Bluebirds Hit Quarter-Century Win Mark with Tournament Win|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands freshman guard Coby Kramer (24) gets in defensive position in the 36th District semifinal game against Dayton on Wednesday.|
The Bluebirds (25-3 overall) started fast and pulled away from the Dayton Greendevils (12-19) for a convincing 72-24 victory in the 36th District semifinals. Highlands hit 25 wins in a season for the first time since 2003.
"We were very focused," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "I was pleased with our guys getting out of the gate trying to control the tempo. We stayed patient defensively and got a couple turnovers, a couple run-outs. We just did our thing. We sharp in so many areas and that's what you want to see in the tournament."
Things again began with their leading scorers. Junior point guard Sam Vinson had 20 points making 9-of-12 shots to go with three rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot. Junior forward Luke Muller scored 17 points making 6-of-8 shots and senior guard Hunter Ahlfeld scored 10 to go with four assists. Muller also had six steals.
Highlands had 1.53 points per game and outscored the Dayton bench, 18-0. Sophomore forward Cole Kocher led the way there for the Bluebirds with eight points.
The Bluebirds made 28-of-49 shots for 57 percent including 9-of-19 from three-point range for 47 percent and 7-of-9 free throws for 78 percent. Highlands also had 26 rebounds, 13 fouls, 21 assists, five turnovers, three blocked shots and 17 steals.
The leading scorer for Dayton coming into the game was sophomore forward Lorenzo Price at 15 per game. He had just 13 and no one else scored more than nine.
"We knew we wanted to pressure them," Listerman said. "(Price) is very good. When he catches it in the low block, he's hard to stop. We limited his touches in the second half. He only had two shots. When you only give up 24 points, you feel good about what you did defensively. We were solid and that's what I was hoping for with our group."
The Greendevils made just 9-of-29 shots for 31 percent and none of their seven three-point tries in addition to just 6-of-12 free throws for 50 percent. Dayton also had 20 rebounds, 10 fouls, seven assists, 22 turnovers and four steals. The Devils averaged .69 shots per shot.
The Bluebirds led 38-14 at halftime and 58-22 entering the fourth quarter. The huge lead let the reserves see some action. Freshman guard Coby Kramer saw some time in the final quarter.
"It's a good experience for me for the future in my high school career," Kramer said. "It's a good feeling to have the starters cheering you on when you're on the bench cheering them on the first part of the game. It took a couple minutes to get into the flow of the game."
Highlands plays Newport (15-13) for the district championship on Friday at 7 p.m. back at Newport. The two met in the district championship last year with the Wildcats rallying for a 64-61 win.