Highlands to host All Star Game today

Today, Highlands will be the host site for the 1A West vs Midwest All Star Game.

The West Teams are made up of selected seniors from the Little and Big Smoky Mountain conferences.

LMSC schools include: Andrews, Blue Ridge, Cherokee, Hayesville, Highlands, Hiwassee Dam, Murphy, Nantahala, Robbinsville and Swain.

Highlands Reese Schmitt lays the ball up for 2 points during round 2 of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) basketball playoffs on Feb. 24 against Avery at home.

The Midwest teams are made up of selected seniors from Avery County, Bessemer City, Cherryville, Draughn, Highland Tech, Rosman and Thomas Jefferson.

Highlands Kasen Mitchell fakes a shot and passes into the paint against Hiwassee Dam in round 1 of the state playoffs.

Highlands Representatives will be Jeffrey Olvera, Hayley Borino, Ava Schmitt, Julia Schmitt and Reese Schmitt.

Coach Brett Lamb will be the head coach for the West Girls.

Highlands Coach Brett Lamb talks strategy during a timeout against Avery during round 2 of the state playoffs.

Highlands post basketball season awards

Boys all conference:

Highlands Jeffrey Olvera on a fast break against Hiwassee Dam on Senior Night.

Highlands Kasen Mitchell sinks a short jump shot on Senior Night against Hiwassee Dam.

Girls all conference:

Hayley Borino – Little Smoky Mountain Conference Player of the Year. Pictured above Highlands Hayley Borino drives to the basket during Highlands Senior Night against Hiwassee Dam.

Highlands Julia May Schmitt dribbles behind her back before driving to the hoop against Avery.

Highlands Reese Schmitt brings the ball down the court against Avery.

All Conference Honorable Mention Highlands Ava Schmitt. Picture Schmitt passes the ball into the paint against Avery.

Little Smoky Mountain Coach of The Year:

Highlands Coach Brett Lamb earns Little Smoky Mountain Coach of the Year. Pictured Lamb shouts encouragement from the sidelines during round 2 of the state playoffs against Avery.

Lady Highlanders lose tough third round of NCHSAA playoffs

Highlands girls varsity basketball team travelled to Burnsville, N.C. on Feb. 26 to take on Mountain Heritage for round three of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Women’s Basketball 1A Championships, but didn’t pull of a win with the Lady Highlanders losing 42-27.

Highlands Bella Branham scopes out her options before calling a play during round 2 of the state playoffs against Avery at home.

Highlands advanced to the third round after defeating Avery County at home on Feb. 24 with a final of 69-32.

Highlands Coach Brett Lamb said the girls basketball team has made it to the third round of the state playoffs three times, in 2011, 2018, and 2020.

Highlands Abbie Doerter drives along the baseline against Avery.

The closest the Lady Highlanders have ever come to the championship game was in 1981 when they made it to the regional finals.

This year, Highlands wrapped up the season with an 18-10 record and Lamb said it’s the most wins he’s had throughout his tenure as coach of the girls varsity basketball program.

Highlands Julia May Schmitt keeps the ball moving against Avery.

“The girls had a great season,” said Lamb. “Of those 10 losses, 5 came down to less than 6 points. So, we were extremely competitive against all schools. Winning our conference and conference tournament was a big goal of ours that was accomplished. This team gelled at the right time and made a great run.”

Highlands Bella Wilson drives to the hoop for 2 points.

With the season’s conclusion, Highlands loses five players and a team manager to graduation. Seniors include Hayley Borino, Bella Branham, Ava Schmitt, Julia May Schmitt, Reese Schmitt, and Team Manager Maddie Webb.

Lamb said their contributions to the team both on and off the court will be missed.

Highlands Hayley Borino drains a 3-pointer.

“With five seniors graduating it will be a big transition, but we are looking forward to watching this next group grow into a championship team,” said Lamb. “The seniors have meant so much to our team, school, and community. Their success and mark they left will be one that teams in the future will strive to reach their standards.”

Highlands Ava Schmitt passes along the baseline during round 2 of the state playoffs.

How is Highlands looking next year? Lamb said they’re looking good with 9 returning players and more moving up from the 8th-grade squad.

“The returning players have a ton of potential and a good summer of basketball will help them move into their new roles on this team,” he said.

Highlands Ezra Branham on a fast break during the state playoffs.

Lamb added that community’s support for the team throughout the season makes a big difference and is greatly appreciated.

“I would like to thank our 5 seniors and senior manager for their hard work and dedication to our program,” he said. “And to the parents and fans, thank you for your great support on a great year.”

Highlands Mac Woods makes her move and drives to the basket.

Highlands Julia May Schmitt lays the ball up for 2 points and draws the foul.

Highlands Hendy Rios hustles back on defense to stop Avery during the final minutes of round 2 of the state playoffs.

Highlands B Bryson on a fast break against Avery during the state playoffs at home.

Highlands Aislynn Luck breaks for the hoop against Avery.

Highlands Lily Bryson checks out Avery’s defense while bringing the ball down the court.

Highlands Bella Wilson sinks a 3-pointer.

Highlands Reese Schmitt holds her ground to snag a rebound against Avery.

Highlands Bella Branham brings the ball down court as Highlands closes in on the win against Avery.

Highlands Mac Woods works the perimeter looking for an opening against Avery.

Highlands Aislynn Luck spots an open teammate and sends the ball under the hoop.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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