The shooting touch of the Highland Bulldogs was just good enough on Friday at the Triad Mid-Winter Classic.
Seniors Brode Portell and Will Michael combined for 14 first half points as Highland bolted out to a 28-18 lead and never looked back in a 59-43 win over Granite City at the Triad Mid-Winter Classic.
With the 6-2 Michael connecting on a pair of mid-range jumpers and Portell stepping out to make two-3-point shots, Highland (10-9) never trailed as they dominated the struggling Warriors. Once 8-5, the loss was the fifth straight for Granite City which gave up numerous open jump shots to Highland.
Fortunatly for coach Matt Elledge’s team, it hit just enough of them to coast to the comfortable victory.
“We’re still not shooting the ball like we can or that we need to but it was good enough tonight,” Elledge said. “I liked our effort and we were able to have that nice scoring run right there in the last few seconds of the second quarter and we were able to carry it over to the early part of the third quarter.”
The win pushes Highland into the third place game on Saturday where it will take on Marion at 5:30 p.m. Granite City (8-10) will play Gateway STEM in the fifth place game at 4 p.m.
Host Triad, which won its pool on Friday with a win over Gateway STEM, will take on Riverview Gardens from St. Louis in the title game at 7 p.m.
Getting 12 points and an emotional lift from the return of leading scorer Kenny Berry who missed the last three games with a knee injury, Granite City cut a 11-point deficit to 23-18 with under 10 seconds left in the first half.
But a 3-point basket by Portell followed by a steal and basket in the final five seconds, doubled the lead to 28-18.
That sequence seemed to take a toll on the Warriors and iginited the Bulldogs which opened the third quarter by scoring 12 of the first 14 points to put the game away.
“Things were going pretty well for us. We were 8-5 at one time and playing pretty good basketball until we went into East St. Louis and had it handed to us. Ever since that time we’ve gone the other direction,” a disappointed Warriors coach Steve Roustio said. “The effort, especially on the defensive end, isn’t there. We’re not getting down and we’re not moving our feet. We’re giving up open open 3-point shots and wide open layups and that’s just a lack of effort. I have no idea why.”