Highlands boys varsity basketball team shuts down Blue Ridge and takes championship

Highlands boys varsity basketball team descended upon Cashiers and scored a solid victory against Blue Ridge on Friday with a final of 74-39.

With Hiwassee Dam’s win over Nantahala, Highlands clinches the regular season championship and gives them the first seed in the conference tournament.

Highlands Mattson Gates underneath the hoop as usual feeling some pressure from Blue Ridge Fisher Druffel (left) and Carter Ferrin on Friday at Blue Ridge. Highlands won 74-39 and clinched the regular season championship.

“Varsity boys have done well this season, but we are a long way from wanting this season to end,” said Head Coach Brett Lamb. “We have played well at times and need to be playing our best going into the playoffs.”

Lamb added that the conference tournament is going to be challenging.

“Tournament will be tough having to face Blue Ridge again on their home court and then playing either Nantahala or Hiwassee Dam who both will be out to knock us off,” he said.

Blue Ridge Phil Arnst on the fast break against Highlands on Friday.

Blue Ridge boys varsity basketball team had a rough year going 5-18 in the regular season and 0-6 in conference. Blue Ridge Head Coach Nick Pressler said there were several obstacles to overcome throughout the season but is optimistic about the future.

“Both teams had to learn a new system and new staff,” said Pressler. “They played hard. This first year was going to be difficult. We knew that.”

Highlands Jake Billingsley looks to dish the ball to Hunter Collins but not if Blue Ridge Jaydon Parris and Fisher Druffel have anything to say about it.

The Bobcats lose four seniors this year who were recognized during the halftime of the girls varsity game.

“Losing seniors always hurts, but I think we are headed in the right direction,” said Pressler.

Blue Ridge Colton Taylor goes for the lay up while fending off tight coverage by Highlands Drew Chalker.

Blue Ridge boys junior varsity team has a winless record of 0-14 in regular season and 0-4 in conference.

Highlands boys junior varsity team’s win on Friday against Blue Ridge earned them the regular season championship and the first seed in the conference tournament.

After the conference tournament, the state playoff bracket will come out on Feb. 23, and playoffs begin on Feb. 26.

Blue Ridge Fisher Druffel and Levi Taylor (back) force Highlands Hunter Collins to find another way to the basket.

Highlands Jon “Bill” Miller uses the pick by Logan Houston to pass the ball inside but was rushed by Blue Ridge Phil Arnst (#3) and Julio Martinez going for the steal.

Blue Ridge Colton Taylor takes it down the sideline shadowed by Highlands Destin Gearhart.

Blue Ridge Noah Pressler waits for the right moment to go for the steal.

Highlands Dillon Schmitt knows who he’s standing next to, Blue Ridge Levi Taylor, and gets ready to go airborne once the rebound comes down.

Scroll down past photos for tournament schedule.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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Little Smoky Mountain Conference Basketball Tournament ~ 2019 schedule:

Monday, February 18 at Blue Ridge

Time Gender Team Team
6:00 JV Boys (2) Hiwassee Dam VS (3) Blue Ridge

Tuesday, February 19 at Blue Ridge

(Starting times may vary)

Time Gender Team Team
4:00 Varsity Girls (1) Hiwassee Dam VS (4) Nantahala
5:30 Varsity Boys (2)Hiwassee Dam VS (3) Nantahala
7:00 Varsity Girls (2) Highlands VS (3) Blue Ridge
8:30 Varsity Boys (1) Highlands VS (4) Blue Ridge

Thursday, February 21 at Blue Ridge (Championship Round)

Time Gender Team Team
4:00 JV Girls Hiwassee Dam VS Highlands
5:30 JV Boys TBD VS TBD
7:00 Varsity Girls TBD VS TBD
8:30 Varsity Boys TBD VS TBD

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