Highland: Sports

HHS fights in the finale but goes 0-4 in opening tourney

Highland sophomore Sam LaPorta soars to the basket for two of his game-high 17 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the field in the Bulldogs’ 49-37 loss to O’Fallon Saturday in their finale of the Battling Bulldogs Thanksgiving Tournament at HHS.
Highland sophomore Sam LaPorta soars to the basket for two of his game-high 17 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the field in the Bulldogs’ 49-37 loss to O’Fallon Saturday in their finale of the Battling Bulldogs Thanksgiving Tournament at HHS. News Leader

The Highland High School boys basketball team went 0-4 after suffering successive losses to Carbondale, Althoff, Edwardsville and O’Fallon at the Battling Bulldogs Thanksgiving Tournament at HHS.

First on Monday, Highland battled tough but came up short in a 40-35 loss to Carbondale. Next on Tuesday, the Bulldogs ran into defending state champion Althoff and suffered an 82-39 setback. It didn’t get any easier on Friday night as Highland took a 66-37 defeat from Edwardsville. Finally on Saturday, the Bulldogs fell to O’Fallon 49-37.

Edwardsville went 4-0 to win the round-robin tournament after holding off Althoff 81-78 on Saturday night to put an exciting exclamation point on a successful tournament.

O’Fallon 49, Highland 37

The Bulldogs never led but quit either.

Highland fell behind by as much as 25-12 with 5:16 left in the first half after O’Fallon had buried six 3-pointers.

But the Bulldogs showed plenty of grit in helping shut the Panthers out the rest of the half and chopped the deficit down to 25-20 by halftime.

Highland fought hard and was still within 29-24 after junior Elliott Prott scored on an offensive-rebound stickback with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter.

But O’Fallon was just too much and closed the frame on a 13-6 run to carry a 12-point advantage into the final stanza.

The Bulldogs would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

As was the case in the 40-35 season-opening loss to Carbondale, sophomore Sam LaPorta was the big bright spot for Highland as he scored a game-high 17 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field to go along with six rebounds.

The Panthers put two players in double figures as Ryan Fulton and Tabari Dunlap scored 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Highland junior Stephen Schniers topped all rebounders with 13 boards to help the Bulldogs own a 32-24 advantage in that department. He also contributed a game-best three blocked shots to go along with seven points.

Sophomore Brady Feldman was HHS’ runner-up scorer with nine points.

Alos adding key stats for the Bulldogs were junior Cameron Altadonna with seven rebounds and two points, and Prott with three rebounds and two points.

Edwardsville 66, Highland 37

Now in his 29th season at Edwardsville High, coach Mike Waldo had a lot of people to remember after notching his 600th win with the Tigers earlier this week.

Waldo and the Tigers made it 601 wins Friday with a 66-37 dismantling of the Highland Bulldogs at the Highland Battling Bulldogs Thanksgiving Tournament.

After going on to hold off fellow powerhouse Althoff 81-78 on Saturday night, Waldo needs just 17 more wins this season to reach 700 for his career.

“First of all, it means we had a lot of really good players and kids,” said Waldo, who has a 602-204 record in 29 seasons at Edwardsville and a 683-255 career record as a high school head coach, counting five seasons at Marquette. “Not only the guys that got to play in the games, but all the guys over the years that played scout team for us and just did everything they could do every day to help the team do well, even though they knew they weren’t going to get to play.

“What a great bunch of kids we’ve had over the years.”

Edwardsville got 17 points and five 3-pointers Saturday from senior Oliver Stephen and 14 points each from seniors Mark Smith and A.J. Epenesa. Epenesa, an All-American defensive end headed to Iowa, was making his season debut after sitting out the Tigers’ first two games at the tourney.

Junior Jack Marinko added 10 points for the Tigers, who will play Althoff (3-0) for the tourney championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Wilkinson coached at Edwardsville as an assistant from 1992 to 2012 after previous head coaching stints at Dwight and Granite City South.

“Everything we do on offense is his,” Waldo said.

Waldo has always had a special bond with his coaching staff, as well.

“We’ve had a lot of good assistant coaches here in the last 28 years, a whole bunch of good teachers, good athletic guys, good people, good for kids,” he said. It makes me think about all the good coaches we’ve had. Of course it makes me think about the great Brian Wilkinson, the greatest basketball man I’ve ever met.”

Wilkinson coached at Edwardsville as an assistant from 1992 to 2012 after previous head coaching stints at Dwight and Granite City South.

“Everything we do on offense is his,” Waldo said.

Waldo rarely shows much emotion, but he did when talking about the importance his family has played in him being able to coach for this long.

“It makes me think about my wife (Diane),” he said. “I’ve been able to do it for a long time, and if you do it for a long time, and you’ve got good players like we’ve got, you’re going to win some games. But my wife takes care of everything at home, raised our kids great and never once made me feel guilty about doing my job.

“What happens is a lot of guys end up getting out of it because of the pressures from other things. I’ve got a great family not because of me, but because of my wife, and that allowed me to get to do this for as long as I’ve been able to. My dad taught me how to work and how to be tough; I hope I am. My mom taught me how to have compassion and be thoughtful. It makes me think about all of those things.”

Jake Kruse led Highland with 12 points while LaPorta added six points and sophomore Jon Dickman had four points.

Also scoring for the Bulldogs were junior Elliott Prott with four points, juniors Cameron Altadonna and Luke Landmann each with three points, and junior Stephen Schniers and sophomore Stephen Torre with two points apiece.

Althoff 82, Highland 39

On Tuesday of last week, Althoff senior Marvin Bateman sank eight of 14 3-point shots in the first half and finished with nine threes on the night along with a game-high 29 points in the Crusaders’ 43-point dismantling of host Highland at the Highland Thanksgiving Tournament.

A night earlier, Bateman was 0-for-4 from the floor and went scoreless in the Crusaders’ 88-68 win over O’Fallon, but one night later he was locked on like a basket-seeking missile.

Bateman drained eight 3-pointers in the first half, hitting one from so far out he nearly had to purchase a ticket. He was hitting treys from the corner and the wing, most of which landed softly in the bottom of the net.

What was the difference from his scoreless Monday to a 29-point Tuesday?

Bateman cooled off a bit in the second half and finished 9-of-20 from beyond the arc, but still did more than enough damage.

Althoff also got 13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals from St. Louis University recruit Jordan Goodwin while senior guard C.J Coldon had eight points.

The Crusaders knocked down 16 3-pointers overall with six different players collecting at least one each.

Highland got a team-high nine points off the bench from sophomore Jon Dickman. Fellow sophomore Brady Feldman added seven points and junior Stephen Schniers had six points, four rebounds and three steals..

The Bulldogs also received four points apiece from LaPorta (eight rebounds), Torre and Landmann, while Altadonna and sophomore Trent Lammers each had two points.

  Comments