Highlands boys varsity basketball team crushes it in first round of state playoffs

The Highlands boys varsity basketball team came out psyched up for the first round of the N.C. High School playoffs against visiting Langtree Charter Academy on Tuesday. Highlands maintained a consistent lead throughout the game, but really started to run away with it in the fourth quarter with a final score of 56-47.

Highlands Hunter Collins slam dunks the ball against Langtree Charter Academy during the first round of state playoffs at home on Tuesday. Highlands won 57-46.

Highlands Head Coach Brett Lamb said they learned as much as they could about Langtree once opposing teams were bracketed up for the tournament.

Highlands Jake Billingsley takes an elbow to the chin before putting up two points.

“We knew from watching them on film that we had a size advantage,” said Lamb. “We got it to the inside as much as possible and it worked.”

Highlands Destin Gearhart drives into a crowded inside but manages to score 2 points against Langtree Charter Academy during the first round of state playoffs.

Lamb added that Langtree brought several threats that had to be addressed throughout the game, including Langtree Charlie Hester (#12) and Josh Miller (#1). Hester was raining shots down throughout the night and Miller made his way to the hoop far more often than Highlands Mattson Gates would have liked to have seen.

“They (Langtree) brought a lot of athleticism,” said Gates. “When you got one guy who can drive (Miller) and a shooter (Hester), it’s hard to stop. But we didn’t turn the ball over and we kept our composure.”

Highlands Mattson Gates knows the inside of the paint all too well, pictured above he snags his own rebound and puts it in on the second try.

Highlands Drew Chalker and Hunter Collins both dunked late in the game and Collins said minus a couple of hiccups they played well.

“I feel like we did pretty good,” said Collins. “We could have done some things better, but we walked away with the W.”

Highlands Dillon Schmitt takes the ball to the hoop but has to dish it off to Destin Gearhart who drains the field goal.

Highlands Dillon Schmitt said Hester and Miller were a problem that was affecting other parts of their game until a solution was found.

“They’re hard to stop, but once we had them shut down, we started scoring,” said Schmitt. “But we need to take better shots and start rebounding, those are the main things we need to work on.”

Highlands Jon “Bill” Miller drives to the hole against Langtree on Tuesday.

Based on the brackets posted on Maxpreps.com it looks like 7-seed Highlands will play 10-seed Pinelake Preparatory Academy at home on Thursday at a time TBD (likely 6 p.m.). Highlands has one day to practice before then and Lamb he said he’s not going to work the team hard and primarily focus on shooting and researching their opponent.

“We’ll just do what we do well,” said Lamb. “We have a senior-lead team, we have experience, and we have home field advantage. And with today’s technology, you can learn a lot about another team. We’ll have to adjust as we go.”

Talk about marking up, Highlands Destin Gearhart stays with his man against Langtree on Tuesday.

Highlands Jake Billingsley protects the ball against Langtree on Tuesday.

Pictured at the top of article is Highlands Drew Chalker slam dunking against Langtree at home on Tuesday during the first round of the state playoffs.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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