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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Weekend Highlands Round-Up: Highlands Boys Hoops Beats Louisville St. Xavier

Highlands Girls Dominate Beechwood

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore guard Will Herald (left) dribbles right trying to attack the basket in a recent game.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (10-4 overall) found out it would be playing Louisville St. Xavier on Saturday late Thursday.

The Bluebirds originally had North Oldham on the schedule for the Ronald McDonald House Classic at Oldham County. But Coronavirus 2019 precautions paired them with St. Xavier and the Bluebirds came away with an 84-68 victory.

Highlands needed that win after losing a tough one to Beechwood, 67-63 in Fort Thomas on Friday. Beechwood is 14-3 overall and St. Xavier is 10-4 including a 1-2 mark against the 9th Region.

"It was a big win for a number of reasons," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "Anytime you beat a top team out of Louisville, that is saying something about your team. Sometimes you can't control circumstances. Our kids responded in a great way. We found a good offensive rhythm and beat a really good basketball team."

Sophomore guard Will Herald made seven three-pointers on his way to 23 points in the win over St. Xavier from the 7th Region. Seniors Luke Muller and Sam Vinson scored 22 and 21 with junior Oliver Harris scoring 13.

Highlands made 30-of-51 shots in the win for 51 percent and 12-of-14 free throws for 86 percent. The Bluebirds also had 26 rebounds, 21 assists, seven steals, seven turnovers and a blocked shot.

"Beechwood is a very good team and we knew we didn't play our best," Muller said. "Coach (Listerman) talked about how we're going to bounce back was really going to tell us about ourselves going through the late season getting ready for the tournament. I think we came together as a team, forgot about (Friday) and just brought it (Saturday). It showed out there on the court."

Senior guard Ben Varga led St. Xavier with 33 points. St. Xavier made 23-of-51 shots for 45 percent and 12-of-13 free throws for 92 percent. St. Xavier also had 17 rebounds, one blocked shot, five assists and three steals.

"They have a (6-foot-6-inch) post in there that's a Bellarmine recruit in (senior forward Ayden) Mudd," Listerman said. "They're not real, real long. But they are very physical. We did a great job of getting them spread out and finding the shooters. (Highlands junior guard) Leyton Read played a huge game for us. He really controlled things for us."

The Bluebirds made 26-of-64 shots against Beechwood for 41 percent including 5-of-17 from three-point range for 29 percent and 6-of-11 free throws for 55 percent. They also had 32 rebounds, 18 fouls, eight assists, six blocked shots and six steals.

Vinson led the way with 23 points, five blocked shots and three steals to go with 11 rebounds for a double-double. Muller scored 16 points and junior forward Cole Kocher had eight points. Read had five assists.

Beechwood saw three players score in double figures. Senior Scotty Draud scored 26 making 10-of-12 free throws to go with 11 rebounds and seven assists with senior Will Downton scoring 19 and sophomore Cameron Boyd scoring 11.

Beechwood made 24-of-51 shots for 47 percent including 6-of-17 from three-point range for 35 percent and 13-of-16 free throws for 81 percent. Beechwood also had 15 assists, 13 turnovers, five blocked shots and three steals.

The Bluebirds take on Newport Central Catholic on Wednesday at home. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Basketball, Girls:
Highlands 77, Beechwood 28:

The Bluebirds (11-4) dominated the Tigers (4-8) for another convincing 9th Region victory Friday. Highlands is 8-3 in region play.

Highlands saw all nine players that received action score in the victory. Senior forwards Rory O'Hara and Kelsey Listerman again led the way with 19 and 17 points respectively. Senior forward Emma Riccobene followed with 11.

"We did not have a game in six days so it was nice to go out and go against someone other than ourselves in practice," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We came out with great intensity defensively. We knew what we wanted to do defensively. We came out and executed. We got the ball to the mismatches. We had some mismatches inside. Rory and Kelsey were able to score."

The Bluebirds distributed the ball well with 18 assists. Senior guard Kate Vaught and sophomore point guard Alyssa Harris led the way with four assists each. Junior guard Meg Gessner and O'Hara had three each.

"I think overall, we played our best on both ends of the court," Harris said. "I think we played great defense talking and working well together. Then on offense, we did a great job of passing it around, looking for the open person and attacking any chance we could."

Highlands made 30-of-48 shots for 63 percent including 7-of-17 from three-point range for 41 percent and 10-of-13 free throws for 77 percent. The Bluebirds also had 13 rebounds, six fouls, three turnovers, two blocked shots and six steals. Harris had two steals.

Beechwood made just 11-of-23 shots for 48 percent including 5-of-12 from three-point range for 42 percent and 1-of-2 free throws for 50 percent. The Tigers had 11 rebounds, 12 fouls, eight turnovers, two assists and one blocked shot.

The Tigers did not see anyone score in double figures. Senior Hanna Mueller led the way with nine points.

Highlands led 23-5 after the first quarter and 44-18 at halftime before taking a 63-28 advantage into the third quarter. Beechwood did not score in the fourth quarter. Highlands tried different things late in the game.

Highlands faces Scott (10-4) Monday in Fort Thomas. Game time is 8 p.m. It was cancelled because of bad weather in the area.

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