Lady Highlanders lose heartbreaker in third round of state playoffs

Highlands varsity girls basketball team made it to the third round of the state playoffs on Monday and hit the road to take on Alleghany in Sparta, N.C. After highs and lows throughout a game that came down to the wire, the Lady Highlanders lost 50-46.

Highlands Bella Branham keeps pressure on Bessemer City at home in the first round of the state playoffs.

Highlands Coach Jake Page said he’s proud of how hard the girls played.

“Wasn’t our best game, but we fought right until the very end and they gave me everything they had,” said Page. “As a coach that is all you can ask for. Wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but still super proud of my girls.”

Highlands Hayley Borino makes the steal and takes it straight to the hoop for 2.

Highlands took on Bessemer City in the first round of the playoffs at home on Feb. 25 and won 67-38. Two days later, the Lady Highlanders hosted Langtree Charter and took the win 83-61 in the second round of the playoffs.

“Second round versus Langtree, our girls really brought it,” said Page. “They were focused and ready to go. Played great defense and really got out in transition, and we really hit shots. Jordan [Carrier] caught fire the first half and that really got things going for us. It was an exciting night for our program and a great night to be a Highlander.”

Highlands Jordan Carrier makes a basket and draws a foul.

Page added that at one point in the season, Highlands was 5-9 and turned it around going undefeated in conference play and winning the Little Smoky Mountain Conference tournament championship. They also won 12 out of their last 15 games, which Page said shows a lot about the character of the girls.

“There was no quit in them,” said Page. “When it got tough, we kept our heads high and still came to work every single day to get better. We play one of the hardest schedules in the state and to have a season like we did [17-12 Overall, 6-0 Conference] is something to hold our heads up high about.”

Highlands Kedra McCall looks for an opening in the first round of state playoffs against Bessemer City.

This year Highlands loses Seniors Kedra McCall and Bailey Schmitt and Page said they will be dearly missed.

“We will miss Ked and Bailey tremendously and everything they have done for our program, but we are still very young, and the future is bright,” he said. “We still have to continue to come to work and get better. I love these girls and I am thankful to have the opportunity to coach them.”

Highlands Bailey Schmitt shuts down any chance of Bessemer City going straight to the hoop.

The Lady Highlanders gear up for soccer next, stay tuned.

Highlands Ezra Branham catches a long pass on the run against Bessemer City.

Highlands Julia May Schmitt on a fast break that puts 2 on the board.

Highlands B Bryson sets up on defense against Bessemer City.

Highlands Ava Schmitt fakes the pass and drives to the basket.

Highlands Hayley Borino takes it to the basket and gets sent to the foul line.

Highlands Reese Schmitt keeps the ball moving along the perimeter.

Highlands Bella Branham drains a free throw.

Highlands Kedra McCall drives to the hoop against Bessemer City.

Highlands Ezra Branham scores 2 on a fast break.

Highlands Julia May Schmitt fakes inside and dishes it off to Jordan Carrier (background).

Highlands Jordan Carrier on a fast break against Bessemer City. Editor’s Note: Jordan takes a split-second to stare into my soul before putting 2 on the board.

Highlands Coach Page lead the Lady Highlanders to an undefeated conference record and winning the Little Smoky Mountain Conference tournament championship.

HHS Cheerleader Ellen Diehl at the top of a stunt in support of the Lady Highlanders during the state playoffs.

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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