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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Highlands Basketball Teams Record Big Holiday Tournament Wins

Highlands Girls Play for Tournament Championship Thursday

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior point guard Zach Barth (left) sets up a play in a recent game.

Both Highlands basketball teams hit the road for the holidays and recorded huge victories.

Boys, Basketball:
Highlands 76, Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft 69:

The Bluebirds (7-3 overall) found themselves down 22 at halftime against the Senators from downtown Cincinnati who drove to the Ohio Division III (second-smallest of four classes) semifinals last year.

Highlands finished the third quarter on an 18-0 run to trail just 52-50 entering the fourth quarter. The Bluebirds then finished the deal outscoring the Senators, 26-17.

"I don't know if I've ever had a bigger comeback as a head coach in my 12 years as a head coach," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "I think that's definitely the largest deficit we've overcome against a high-quality opponent. Taft is not only one of the best teams in Cincinnati, but one of the best teams in Ohio. For us to gut it out like we did and have the fortitude and togetherness as a group to keep fighting, I'm so proud of our guys."

The Bluebirds put together their usual balanced scoring. Senior guards Zach Barth and Leyton Read led the way with 22 points and 17 points respectively. Junior guard Will Herald followed with 14 and sophomore center Brody Benke scored 11 including one three-pointer.

"Coach (Listerman) sparked us at halftime," Read said. "We were getting up and down the floor. We kept moving, getting the rebounds and getting out in transition where we're best at finding our shooters. All of us were hitting threes."

Highlands made 30-of-60 shots for 50 percent including 8-of-16 three-point attempts for the same percentage. The Bluebirds also made 8-of-11 free throws for 73 percent and grabbed 34 rebounds. Senior forward Oliver Harris led the way with 11.

Junior 6-foot-4-inch forward Rayvon Griffith led Taft with 21 points. He is being recruited by Ohio State, the University of Cincinnati and other NCAA Division I schools. Small forward Demario Hill and point guard Demarco Bradley followed with 14 and 12 points respectively.

Highlands plays host to Vestavia Hills (Alabama) on Dec. 28 in its annual Carespring Holiday Classic. Game time is 7:45 p.m.

Basketball, Girls:
Highlands 53, Assumption 48:

The young Bluebirds (3-4) took a huge step forward ending the eight-game winning streak for the host Rockets (8-2).

Assumption put a lot of players around freshman 6-foot-2-inch center Marissa Green holding her to six points. But the two seniors picked up the slack. Senior 6-1 center CC Shick scored 16 points and senior guard Meg Gessner scored 11.

"The good thing is CC Shick was able to get some one-on-ones and we were able to get her the ball from our guards. She was able to get some and-ones," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We just had guards step up and handle the ball."

Sophomore 5-9 center Kasey Gross scored eight points for the second straight game. Seven different Bluebirds scored. The Bluebirds made 19-of-34 shots for 56 percent including 5-of-11 from three-point range for 46 percent and 10-of-12 free throws for 83 percent.

"I think we did a good of being able to shift through (the defense) and know what plays we needed to run when they would come up and double team Marissa," Gross said. "Our confidence has gone up a lot with driving to the basket among other things."

Assumption put two players in double figures making 8-of-11 free throws for 73 percent. Sophomore guards Geriann Ackermann and Taryn Morris scored 15 and 10 points respectively.

Highlands takes on Pikeville (7-1) in the tournament championship at 3:15 p.m. back at Assumption.

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