The Highland High boys basketball team used a patient strategy and battled hard on both ends of the court, but the Bulldogs came up just short as visiting Carbondale spoiled the debut of new coach Brian Perkes with a 40-35 victory Monday on the first day of the Battling Bulldogs Thanksgiving Tournament.
“Our execution on the offensive end was what we really wanted to try to do — slow the game down with long possessions,” Perkes said. “We took a couple of bad shots but over the course of 32 minutes, we executed pretty darn good. We missed some open looks, and if we could have knocked some of those down, then maybe the outcome is different.
“I told the kids that if there ever is a such thing as a good loss, then this is a good loss for us. I think we grew up a lot and I some of the young kids realized the quickness of the game, the physicalness of the game and we’re going to be okay.”
Carbondale (1-0) got a game-high 16 points from Kani Acree and nine points from Darius Beane to win the tourney opener.
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The Bulldogs (0-1) used tight defense and a controlled pace to keep things close, but the Terriers created a little separation in the first four minutes of the third quarter when they jused an 8-2 run in the first half of the frame to stretch a one-point halftime lead up to 24-17.
Then after Highland got back to within 26-23 on a layup to end the third quarter from 6-foot-6 sophomore Stephen Torre off an nice setup from 6-3 sophomore Sam LaPorta.
“Sometimes are best offense is just getting the ball to Sam LaPorta and letting him create, and that’s what he did,” Perkes said. “I thought Sam’s play was strong and I thought a lot of players did ome good things tonight. I thought there were a lot of positives to take from this game. I thought we rebounded very well, executed our game plan on offense and played good defense.”
Carbondale got some separation in the fourth and grew the lead to its largest at 40-29 before Highland closed it out with a 6-0 run.
LaPorta finished with a team-best 14 points while fellow 6-3 sophomore Stephen Schniers tossed in eight points.
Also for the Bulldogs, junior guard Elliott Prott scored six points and sophomore guard Brady Feldmann added five points.