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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bluebirds Throttle Pioneers

Highlands Wins Fifth Straight

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior guard Leyton Read inbounds the ball in a recent game.

The final score does not indicate it.

But the host Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (14-4) fell behind 13-2 to start the game before rallying for a 98-70 victory over the Simon Kenton Pioneers (9-6) just missing the century mark. This marked the second highest scoring game of the season for the Bluebirds and the fifth straight victory.

The teams have not been playing on a yearly basis in recent years. But this marked the first time in four meetings the Bluebirds beat the Pioneers since Kevin Listerman became head coach in the spring of 2013.

"It started with our defense," Listerman said. "We were able to get them to turn it over and got rolling. We were able to get out in transition. We are really sharing the basketball. We're doing a lot of good things really at both ends of the floor."

This marked just the seventh meeting between the two programs since Simon Kenton moved from the 9th Region and 33rd District to the 8th Region and 32nd District during the statewide massive redistricting following the 2004-05 season. Highlands last beat Simon Kenton, 61-51 on Feb. 22, 2008 in Independence.

Highlands senior point guard Sam Vinson again had a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and six steals. The Northern Kentucky University commit made 10-of-16 shots including 2-of-4 three-point tries and all three free throws.

Seven different Bluebirds scored. Sophomore guard Will Herald scored 24 with senior forward Luke Muller scoring 19 and junior forward Oliver Harris 12.

Highlands made 39-of-68 shots for 57 percent including 13-of-31 from three-point range for 42 percent and all seven free throws. The Bluebirds also had 24 assists, 23 rebounds and 16 steals.

Simon Kenton senior guard Kelly Niece scored 32 points. He came into the game averaging 28.6 points per game. Junior guard Isaac Miller added 12.

"We really made him work for everything that he got," Listerman said. "To his credit, he knocked down some tough shots. But we were really able to disrupt their offense and control the game once we took the lead in the first quarter."

Simon Kenton made 29-of-53 shots for 55 percent including 4-of-11 from three-point range for 36 percent and all eight free throws. 

The Pioneers also had 29 rebounds. Niece led the way with six.

Highlands plays host to Covington Holmes (3-8) on Wednesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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