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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Highlands Hits Clutch Shots Down Stretch in Huge 9th Region Win

Bluebirds Improve to 3-0 in Region Action

PHOTO: Dale Dawn. Highlands senior guard Zach Barth (10) goes in for the score in the 9th Region game against Holy Cross. Barth scored 28 points in the 87-72 Highlands win.

The battle-tested Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team welcomed the state's leading scorer to Russell Bridges Gym on Monday in Holy Cross junior guard Jacob Meyer.

The Bluebirds contained him enough on the way to an 87-72 9th Region victory. Both teams are 9-4 overall. Highlands is 3-0 in region play and Holy Cross is 1-2.

Meyer entered the game with 498 points on the season for an average of 41.5 per game. The Bluebirds held Meyer to 36 points. Meyer made 13-of-35 shots for 38 percent including 2-of-7 and 8-of-8 free throws.

Senior Leyton Read drew the primary assignment guarding Meyer along with junior guard Seth Ryan and sophomore guard Nathan Vinson. Highlands Head Coach Kevin Listerman credited senior forward Oliver Harris for help defense on Meyer. The Bluebirds often ran two guys at Meyer trying to make him pass the ball.

"We made (Meyer) take a lot of tough (shots)," Listerman said. "We sent him to the free-throw line a little too much in the fourth quarter. But up until that point, we'd done a good job of not fouling him, which is how great offensive players build big, big nights. He's really good at attacking the rim and being an unbelievable scorer."

The Indians made 27-of-68 shots for 40 percent including 8-of-19 from three-point range for 42 percent and 10-for-11 for 91 percent from the free-throw line. Holy Cross also had 34 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two turnovers. 

Senior forward Dylan Arlinghaus had 15 rebounds for the Indians. But Holy Cross did not place anyone else in double digits scoring-wise.

The Bluebirds made 33-of-58 shots for 57 percent including 12-of-23 from three-point range for 52 percent. Highlands also had 34 rebounds, 21 assists and four turnovers.

Senior guard Zach Barth led Highlands with a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds to go with six assists. Junior guard Will Herald also scored 28 points making six three-pointers. Senior forward Oliver Harris scored 13 and senior forward Cole Kocher scored 11.

"We had some guys make some really good decisions," Harris said. "We still want to take the good looks that we get. Late in the game, we want to work the ball and make sure we get great shots. We got both those. It led to the win."

Highlands trailed in the first half. But the Bluebirds used their full-court attack to go up 38-31 at halftime and never looked back. Herald hit three crucial three-pointers down the stretch.

"We talked about it at the end of the first quarter that we wanted to get the game faster," Listerman said. "Our kids did that. I think we did a better job of rebounding, especially the second and third quarters and that's how we were able to build our lead. When we start sharing the basketball and we get those catch-and-shoot looks, we're a pretty good team."

Highlands travels to Newport (3-8) for a 36th District seed game Thursday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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