The Highland High School boys basketball team had its most proficient offensive game of the season in a 68-62 home win over Mascoutah on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (6-16) used a sizzling season-best 64 percent (27-for-42) shooting from the field, including going 7-for-12 from behind the arc, and placed three players solidly in double figures.
In addition, the Bulldogs turned the ball over just nine times and had a 2 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio at 18-9. Conversely, Mascoutah (9-15) committed17 turnovers and finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5 to 17. The Indians also shot the ball well at 55 percent (23-for-42).
“It shows that our hard work in practice is paying off because we’re spending a lot of time shooting the basketball in practice,” Highland first-year coach Brian Perkes said. “ I mean sometimes it’s 45 minutes out of our two-hour practice we’re spending shooting, and it’s starting to pay off. Our goal was always to get to 45 or 50 points, and we thought if we could get there, we would be competitive in most games. We don’t expect to get to 68 points, but when you shoot the ball well, you look crisp, sharp and good.”
Sophomore guard Brady Feldmann caught fire shooting the ball in the third quarter and could not miss as he scored 13 consecutive points for Highland — highlighted by including a trio of 3-pointers — in slightly more than four minutes to help the Bulldogs turn a 35-33 deficit into a 46-42 lead with 1:18 remaining in the period.
Feldmann started with a pair of triples in a 50-second span to put his team up for good at 39-35 and then capped off his explosion with another trey.
Feldmann buried all four of his 3-pointers in the game and topped all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-10 field goals.
“He was unbelievable, it was like an NBA game where we were trying to get him the ball every time and just run him until he got to empty,” Perkes said. “He kept knocking shots down and that was a nice spurt for us offensively.”
Highland was far from done as junior forward Stephen Schniers nailed a runner down the lane with six seconds left to nudge the lead to 48-43 heading to the final stanza.
After sophomore forward Sam LaPorta scored on a putback, Feldmann drilled a trifecta from several feet from behind the 3-point line and Schniers flipped in a hook shot to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead up to that point at 55-44 with 6:43 to play.
After Mascoutah chopped the deficit down to 56-50, LaPorta sank back-to-back jumpers, junior guard Cameron Altadonna made a layup, then dished to Schniers for a layup to extend Highland’s largest lead to 64-50 with 1:21 to go.
Schniers and LaPorta joined Feldmann in double digits. Schniers supplied 16 points on 7-of-10 field goals to go along with four assists, two boards and one steal, while LaPorta contributed 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
Mascoutah also had three players in double figures, with Glen Gibbons leading the way with 17 points. Also for the Indians, Logan Jung tossed in 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Noah Brandon added 12 points.
For the Bulldogs, it was their third Mississippi Valley Conference win in a row and they stay near the top in the chase for the league crown crown at 4-2. That is good enough to rank second behind only Triad’s conference-leading 4-1 mark.
In contrast, Mascoutah has lost five games in a row in the MVC to dip to 1-5 in league play.
“We have a chance to sneak another conference championship out of here,” Perkes said. “Maybe we’ve got to beat Triad and maybe we need a little help, but we’re sitting 4-2 and we’re in second place right now. That is a credit to these guys because they are puppy dogs right now and they have bought in and are very receptive to the things we’re trying to do. We’re doing things a little bit differently and they bought in from day one.”
Mascoutah jumped out on top 7-0 and led 10-4 before Highland erupted for a 15-0 run to take a 19-10 lead 17 seconds into the second quarter.
The Bulldogs again went up by nine at 26-17 with 2:31 left in the second period, but Jaydon Stewart banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap off a 12-2 run that put the Indians on top by a point at the break.
“I thought we really had them on the ropes when we got up 26-17 with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half, but then they made that extended run and banked in a 3 at the buzzer and we’re down one point at halftime,” Perkes said. “We were like wow, where did that lead go? Mascoutah is athletic and they are a dangerous team and they’ve got some kids who can shoot the ball. They’re a tough matchup for us. But we have showed some poise in certain situations the past couple of games...We’re getting better.”
Also producing numbers for the Bulldogs were sophomore center Stephen Torre with six points, four rebounds, two blocks and one assist; sophomore forward Jake Kruse with six points an two assists; and junior Cameron Altadonna with five points and a team-high five assists;