Highlands girls varsity basketball team hosted Blue Ridge Early College on Friday and won 59-52. After the victory Highlands recognized its senior athletes in both basketball and cheerleading.
Highlands Coach Jake Page said any time you go up against BREC you can throw records out the window and know you’re in for an emotional hard-fought game.
“Wasn’t our best game, but we will take it,” he said. “I thought our bench came in and really kept us in the game that first half when we got in some foul trouble. They played very poised and I was very proud of them.”
Page added that Highlands gave up too many offensive rebounds that gave BREC second chance opportunities, but settled down and started boxing out better as the game went on.
“Really thought the second half we executed better as a team and we took care of the basketball,” he said. “Ezra [Branham] really had a great game offensively and defensively. Super proud of all my girls and so happy to get a win on Senior Night for our seniors.”
Highlands Senior Kedra McCall said BREC made them work hard for the win.
“It wasn’t the prettiest thing ever, but we pulled it together,” said McCall. “They kept putting up shots and they went on some runs. Even when we had our hand in their face, they’d still put it in.”
BREC Coach Tim Mayse said the Lady Bobcats ran into foul trouble in the third quarter when Highlands made a big run.
“When we were able to play our style of basketball, which is to attack the rim on offense and apply pressure on defense, we did great,” he said. “Our girls did a better job this time of executing on offense and rebounding the ball than the first matchup.”
He added that Highlands did a good job of mixing up their man defense with a half-court trap defense, and consistently made free throws.
“Their ability to make shots at the free throw line won them the game,” said Mayse. “They have a good point guard and they do a good job of spreading the defense out with their ball movement. Other than that, nothing they did was a surprise to us. Both teams know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are.”
Following the game, Highlands recognized its 13 senior athletes. Seniors on Highlands girls varsity team include McCall and Bailey Schmitt.
McCall said she’s going to miss the relationships formed with teammates and coaches throughout her basketball career and getting ready for big games.
“In the locker room before big games, before the coaches come in we’re already excited, then they come in and it reaches an even more exciting vibe.”
Page said he’s lucky for the opportunity to coach players like McCall and Schmitt.
“Bailey is a great athlete and has led by example by working hard and being a great teammate to all of the players. Her attitude has been outstanding no matter what the circumstance is, and for that I am grateful.”
He said Ked was the “workhorse” for Highlands.
“She is a special player and she is just so dang tough,” said Page. “She gives 100% at all times. She also is a great teammate and just a great leader. Her work ethic and determination are things that make her such a great competitor as well. Very proud of both of these girls. They have set a great example of what it takes to be a Lady Highlander.”
Highlands Senior Night athletes with their parents. Portraits by Highlands Kindergartners in Margie Potts and Bonnylin Covey’s classes.