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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Highlands Clinches Top Seed in 36th District Tournament

Bluebirds Finish 3-0 in District Seed Play

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Luke Muller (left) and Will Herald look to trap the ball in a recent game.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (12-4 overall) had to beat another district opponent in three days to take the top seed in the 36th District Tournament in March.

The Bluebirds started off fast and cruised to an 83-45 victory Friday. They finished 3-0 in district action and will not play the Dayton Greendevils during the regular season.

Highlands saw five different players score in double figures. Senior point guard Sam Vinson led the way with 27 making 11-of-13 shots. Junior guard Leyton Read and junior forward Oliver Harris scored 12 each with junior guard Will Herald and senior forward Luke Muller scoring 11 each.

"We don't have to do a lot of extra talking or going over extra reps because our guys are locked in," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "They know what they're assignments are. I feel like they've taking the coaching, the small adjustments we've made along the way this year and really started to get comfortable with what we're trying to do and really playing unselfish. I think that's the most important thing the last couple games. We're really moving the ball, finding the open guy and having a lot of fun doing it. It starts with the seniors."

Highlands made 34-of-56 shots for 61 percent including 11-of-22 from three-point range for 50 percent and 4-of-5 free throws for 80 percent. The Bluebirds also had 30 rebounds, 17 assists, 12 steals and 11 turnovers.

Herald had nine rebounds with Vinson making eight. Vinson also had six assists and five steals. Read had four assists with Harris making three assists and three steals.

Newport (4-11) made 20-of-46 shots for 44 percent including 4-of-15 three-point attempts for 27 percent and 1-of-5 free throws for 20 percent. The Wildcats also had 16 rebounds, two assists, five steals and eight turnovers.

Senior guard Alex Greene and sophomore forward Marquez Miller led the Wildcats with 17 and 10 points respectively. Highlands held Newport's leading scorer in senior guard KeAndre Nelson to just six points. Nelson averages 16.5 points per game.

"KeAndre Nelson handles the ball and attacks the rim really well and finishes and then (junior) Evan Snapp is a sharp-shooter in the wing so they have the pieces to be dangerous," Listerman said. "They have played a lot of teams very close. They're very capable of staying with teams. We talked to the guys about that and not taking them lightly. We were very focused from the onset."

The reserves saw a good amount of action in the second half. That included sophomore guard Adam Dunn.

"When I go in, I just try to do what I can just to increase the lead," Dunn said. "I don't really try to do too much. We really emphasized that we needed to win and we got it done."

Highlands plays another Campbell County opponent Saturday on the road against the Bishop Brossart Mustangs (6-7). Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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