Highland News Leader

Bulldogs roll past Salem to claim regional crown

Highland 53, Centralia 35

The Highland Bulldogs got their postseason started off on a strong note Feb. 26.

Behind a solid wire to wire effort, the second-seeded Bulldogs rolled to a 53-35 victory over Centralia in a Class 3A regional semifinal at Salem High School.

Senior forward Sam LaPorta paced Highland with 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Senior point guard Brady Feldmann pumped in 15 points, sending Highland to the regional championship game against Salem.

Highland 59, Salem 39

No. 2 seed Highland crossed off another achievement on its 2019 bucket list as the Bulldogs started fast and rolled to a 59-39 victory against number No. 3 seed Salem to claim the Class 3A regional championship Friday.

Jake Kruse paced led the way for the Bulldogs with 17 points. Senior big man Steven Torre posted 7 points and 7 rebounds, while Jack Etter gathered seven rebounds.

“It was good to see that we had a lot of guys contribute and we think that’s one of the strengths of this team,” Highland coach Brian Perkes said. “It’s a one dog race or one pony show by us. We certainly have more than just Sam LaPorta.”

The Bulldogs led by 10 points after the first quarter and pushed that lead to 30-19 at halftime.

“They (Salem) never really threatened us because we had a comfortable lead all night long,” Perkes said.

Highland (28-5) advances to face Mascoutah (22-11) in a Class 3A sectional semifinal Wednesday night at Mascoutah.

It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the two Mississippi Valley Conference rivals. Highland has won all three to date.

“They know our personnel and we know their personnel and it’s probably going to come down to like it does most times, who executes the best,” Perkes said. “We feel like if we execute and play well, we’ve got a pretty good chance.”