Highlands boys varsity basketball team slams down Blue Ridge

It was an action packed and emotional Senior Night on Friday as Highlands junior varsity boys and varsity girls basketball teams won solid victories over Blue Ridge, and Highlands varsity boys followed suit winning 50-31.

Highlands Head Coach Brett Lamb said going into Friday’s game they knew they were going to need to shut down Blue Ridge Noah Pressler’s penetration and Levi Taylor on the boards to walk away with the W.

“I think our boys handled Blue Ridge’s game plan of slowing the game down and took advantage of our speed at times, our defense, and rebounding,” said Lamb. “We were able to speed the game up in the second quarter and take a lead we never relinquished.”

Blue Ridge Head Coach Nick Pressler said things started off well but could not keep pace with Highlands.

“They played well in the first quarter,” said Pressler. “We need to do a better job of transitioning on offense. The defense played well at times. We still have things to work on, but they are not unbeatable.”

Pressler added that Highlands played a big inside game and Blue Ridge needed to do a better job keeping on Highlands’ shooter.

Lamb said winning Friday’s conference game means if Highlands wins the next two conference games they will be tied for the regular season championship and the conference tournament will determine the #1 seed for state in their conference. 

Highlands will lose seven seniors next year and Lamb said they will be sorely missed.

“Words can describe what these seniors mean to our coaching staff, this program, and the school,” said Lamb. “They are first and foremost great young men. They also have grown greatly through 4 years on the basketball court. We have been very fortunate to have been their coaches and they will be greatly missed.”

Pictured below are Highlands senior athletes recognized at halftime for their achievements over the course of their career at Highlands School. Portraits by Margie Potts’ kindergarten class at Highlands School.

Highlands senior athletes from left are Samuel Hawkins, Drew Chalker, Mattson Gates, Logan Houston, Destin Gearhart, Chase Sullivan, Abby Olvera, Betty Garcia, Hannah Holt, Hunter Collins, and Jake Billingsley.

Jake Billingsley

Drew Chalker

Hunter Collins

Betty Garcia

Mattson Gates and Samuel Hawkins

Destin Gearhart

Hannah Holt

Logan Houston

Chase Sullivan

After the athletes were recognized, Highlands students broke it down on the court dancing to Cotton-Eyed Joe, video below.

Lamb is optimistic about the boys varsity team’s future despite losing seven players.

“Our program is blessed with more good kids and they are loaded with potential,” he said. “Our JV team has had a great year and they are currently in 1st place in conference and looking to finish strong. We have a lot of slots to fill for next year. The work they put in during the off season will determine how far we can go next year.”

Lamb added that it was a great Senior Night and he appreciates the community’s support.

“Just to our parents, fans, students and our youth night thanks for making this a great senior night that we will all remember,” he said. 

Highlands next plays away against Nantahala on Feb. 8. The Bobcats play at 8 p.m. tonight at home against Cherokee.

Highlands Hunter Collins slam dunks the ball and nets himself a technical for his efforts for hanging on the rim against Blue Ridge on Friday at Highlands’ Senior Night. Highlands won 50-31.

Blue Ridge Carter Ferrin launches for the lay up with Highlands Hunter Collins in his face on Friday.

Highlands Drew Chalker takes the shot over Blue Ridge Levi Taylor on Friday night.

Blue Ridge Colton Taylor tries to duck his shot under Highlands Hunter Collins.

Blue Ridge Levi Taylor on the fast break with Highlands Hunter Collins going for the steal.

Highlands Mattson Gates gets the bucket and the whistle.

Blue Ridge Noah Pressler using a pick by Mason Baumgarner on the fast break closely followed by Highlands Dillon Schmitt (left) and Destin Gearhart.

Highlands Jake Billingsley puts his body into it going for the basket while Blue Ridge Jaydon Parris goes for the stuff.

Highlands Chase Sullivan looks for an opportunity to move the ball while Blue Ridge Fisher Druffel goes to swat the ball out of his hands.

Logan Houston goes for a the quick basket while under the net and Blue Ridge Julio Martinez is going to make him work for those 2 points.

Highlands senior cheerleader Betty Garcia is well known for getting crowds fired up and kicking the spirit-level up a notch at games.

It was an emotional Senior Night in Highlands for many players including from left Destin Gearhart, Drew Chalker, and Jake Billingsley.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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Macon County Boys Basketball

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