Highland (27-3) used a 22-0 scoring run in the first half to coast into the regional title game.
A key member of the Bulldogs team which placed third in the Class 3A State Tournament a year ago, senior Alex LaPorta combined with 6-1 senior center Hayley Taylor to score 10 of the Bulldogs’ first 12 points before guard Madison Wellen, Rece Portell and freshman Ellie Brown found the range.
During the 22-0 run, which occurred during a seven-minute stretch between the first and second quarters, Highland increased its lead to 24-3. Freeburg (13-16) would get no closer than 18 points the rest of the game.
“I thought we came out and played with a lot of energy early. We wanted to play fast, put pressure on and maybe get them (Freeburg) to play out of their element,” Highland coach Mike Arbuthnot said.
Freshman point guard Brown made a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight of her game-high 16 points in second quarter as the Bulldogs lead grew to 40-13 at halftime.
“I thought we were very nervous early in the first half, and that’s to be expected. ... I just wanted us to play hard, and I thought we did that,” Freeburg coach Lori Crunk said. “We had nine wins last year and 13 this year. We’re improving.”
Kayla Mueller led Freeburg with 10 points. LaPorta added 10 for Highland.