It boiled down to the final seconds, but Blue Ridge Early College varsity boys basketball team beat Highlands on Wednesday with a final of 37-34.
BREC Coach Tim Mayse said it’s always interesting to see how players handle pressure in rivalry games, especially when it’s coming down to the last minute. He said the Bobcats stayed composed and maintained focus on the game plan.
“I thought the boys played with great intensity,” said Mayse. “They are really fun to watch when they get after it. We wanted to really apply pressure and make it a track meet to see if Highlands could go up and down all night. Highlands is much bigger than we are in the post, and we didn’t want them to be able to just walk it up the court and throw it to their bigs.
This is the first time the Bobcats beat the Highlanders at home since 2015 and Mayse said the boys earned it.
“The biggest thing I was impressed with was our boys’ mindsets in knowing we could compete with Highlands and maintaining that mindset throughout the game,” said Mayse. “We knew we could match-up athletically with them, and we knew their size could create some problems. So, we asked our boys to play a full court game knowing they were going to be exhausted at times, and they were resilient throughout the night with maintaining that pressure. You got to have some pride in yourself and your team to be able to play that way, and that’s what we want to bring back to the boys program. Pride.”
Highlands Coach Brett Lamb said they played decent at times, but have several players who have stepped into new roles this year and without a summer of workouts and games, they don’t have the experience they normally would have.
“We had a few breakdowns on defense and rebounding that hurt,” said Lamb. “Also, we missed some really-easy shots that made a huge difference. I give Blue Ridge a lot of credit. They got a lot of the loose balls and rebounds that made it hard for us to overcome.”
He added that they just need to keep working and get ready for the next game.
“We have a good group just have to get them all working together for that one common goal,” said Lamb.
Throughout all NC high school sports, players are required to wear facemasks during play and only parents are support staff are allowed to attend games because of COVID-19 safety protocols. Mayse said this is difficult on everyone but the best thing to do is maintain vigilance.
“I know things are difficult right now with COVID protocols and the late start to the season,” said Mayse. “Not being able to have the normal environment for basketball games is a weird feeling. However, we have to stay diligent in following the necessary protocols and creating a safe environment for our students. Ultimately, we are just thankful to be able to have a season this year. I really had doubts we would even be playing sports this year.”