|Highlands Wins Fifth Straight|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior guard Leyton Read (12) brings the ball up the court while senior forward Cole Kocher (left) get in position in a recent game.|
It was a classic case of the underdog wanting to slow down the tempo and the favorite wanting to push the tempo.
The visiting Covington Holmes Bulldogs (2-5 overall) played at their slow pace in the first half against the Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (6-2) trailing just 33-30. But the Bluebirds played at their desired up-tempo pace in the second half pulling away for a 71-59 victory.
"We weren't really being ourselves in the first half," said Seth Ryan, Highlands junior guard. "Two of our most important players were in foul trouble in the first half. Once we pushed the pace, we got more open shots. Once we get the lead, we can just keep pushing it out."
Highlands moved to 2-0 in 9th Region play with the win. The Bluebirds have won five straight.
"We talked about putting bodies in front of the basketball and I thought we did that, got them to miss some shots and get out and run," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "We were able to build a bit of a lead. It's kind of how we've been this year. One guy gets rolling and we ride him for a bit. Another guy gets hot in the other quarters."
Highlands had its usual balance with nine different players scoring making 11-of-16 free throws for 69 percent. Junior guard Will Herald led the way scoring 15 points. Senior forwards Cole Kocher, Oliver Harris and senior guard Zach Barth scored 14 points each.
The Bluebirds made 28-of-56 shots for 50 percent including 4-of-13 from three-point range for 31 percent. They also had 31 rebounds. Barth led the way with seven.
Listerman said the Bluebirds rebounded well again. But he said turnovers need to be cut down in order for the defending state champions to take the next step.
Holmes made just 8-of-15 free throws for 53 percent. Senior Quantez Calloway led the Bulldogs with 18 points and junior Miguel Garcia scored 16.
Highlands takes on Huntington (West Virginia) St. Joseph Prep on Tuesday in the Queen City Classic at Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft. Game time is 7:45 p.m.