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Friday, January 7, 2022

Highlands Earns 10th Win Minus Two Starters

Bluebirds Pull Away from Wildcats

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior guard Seth Ryan prepares to inbound the ball in a recent game.

Two starters may not have been available Thursday.

But the Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (10-4 overall) had other step forward to pick up a huge 84-61 36th District victory over the Newport Wildcats (3-9). The Bluebirds moved to 4-0 in 9th Region play with the victory.

Sophomore center Brody Benke picked up a lot of the slack with senior guard Zach Barth and senior forward Cole Kocher not able to play. Benke made all 10 shots and his lone free throw on his way to 21 points.

The Bluebirds put up their usual balance with five players reaching double digits. Senior forward Oliver Harris followed with 14 points and junior guard Will Herald scored 12. Senior guard Leyton Read scored 11 and junior guard Seth Ryan scored 10. Highlands Head Coach Kevin Listerman even commended senior guard Austin Duncan, sophomores guard Nathan Vinson and Brayden Moeves for giving the Bluebirds great minutes off the bench.

"I told the kids before the game, 'Just continue to be yourselves," Listerman said. "We wanted to play fast. We were able to get things going up and down. Really from the middle of the second quarter, we controlled the game."

Highlands made 33-of-51 shots for 65 percent including 8-of-15 from three-point range for 53 percent and all 10 free throws. The Bluebirds also had 25 rebounds, 11 fouls, 22 assists, six turnovers, seven steals and no blocked shots. Read led Highlands with nine rebounds and Benke had seven rebounds.

"My teammates got me the ball when I was open," Moeves said. "I was able to knock down shots well. In practice, we keep getting better."

Newport made 25-of-58 shots for 43 percent including 6-of-17 from three-point range for 35 percent and 5-of-11 free throws for 46 percent. The Wildcats also had 22 rebounds, 11 fouls, 17 assists, eight turnovers, four blocked shots and five steals.

The Wildcats put three players in double figures. Junior forward Marquez Miller led the way scoring 27.  Eighth grade wing James Turner and senior forward Robert Sanders followed with 12 and 10 respectively.

Highlands travels to Ashland Blazer (10-4) for a rematch of the state semifinals from last year. Game time is 6 p.m.

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