Highlands varsity boys basketball team hosted Hiwassee Dam last week in the Little Smoky Mountain Conference championship and won 51-32.
Highlands has won the LSMC tournament for the past two years and Coach Brett Lamb said he knew going up against Hiwassee was going to be a tough game.
“The championship against Hiwassee Dam we knew was going to be a huge challenge, they had beaten us by 6 both times,” said Lamb. “We wanted to use our quickness and zone defense to go against their length and size. We got a 13-6 lead in the first quarter and we put our press in and it slowed them down and we created turnovers that turned into easy baskets. Our kids made some in game adjustments that we needed to do to stop their better players.”
Highlands Reid Carrier spent much of his time driving to the hoop or sinking free throws, and said they played well in the championship.
“As a team, we played a good overall game, especially on defense,” said Carrier. “I think it was one of our strongest games of the year in every aspect.”
Highlands Lane Tingen said they didn’t have the best season going 10-16, but they came together as a team to beat Hiwassee.
“We definitely improved since the last time we played them,” said Tingen. “We knew their weak spots and we capitalized on them. We knew they’d keep putting shots up, but we played good defense and shut that down.”
Highlands took on Nantahala in the first round of the LSMC tournament before reaching the championship, the Highlanders won 66-65 after coming back from a steep deficit.
“The game against Nantahala was a great game to be a part of and it’s a shame as hard as both teams played that either team had to lose,” said Lamb. “I give them a ton of credit with only 7 boys they play really hard and never quit, but our guys found a way to win.”
He added that he challenged Highlands in the 4th quarter to play better defense and get more rebounds, the boys responded and came back from an 11-point deficit and pulled out the win.
Carrier said it’s a nice achievement at the end of a rough season.
“I’m a little disappointed in the way our season went this year, but I’m glad we got our stuff together and came back to finish off the year strong,” he said.
Lamb said the boys never gave up despite a challenging season.
“We are so proud of the boys for sticking with our process and philosophy through the season. We had some tough growing pains, but we have been competitive and have grown as a team,” he said. “All our players have shown a lot of improvement and maturity since the beginning of the season.”
Lamb added a big thank you to the students, parents, and fans for all the support during the tournament and creating an amazing atmosphere that helped push the Highlanders to victory.
Highlands versus Hiwassee
Highlands versus Nantahala