The outcome of Highland Lady Bulldogs basketball tournament opener was a mere formality, but the main intrigue of the game was when and how senior guard Madison Wellen would reach the 1,000-point milestone during the Lady Bulldogs’ 72-20 romp over Carlyle on Monday in the first game of the 31st Annual Highland Scott Credit Union Girls Basketball Tournament at Highland High School.
The answers for Wellen came with 3 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the first half on a free throw.
“Congratulations to Madison; she has had a great career, and I am just so happy for her that she was able to do that,” said Highland coach Mike Arbuthnot, whose team is ranked third in the state in Class 3A with a 16-3 record after winning its eighth game in a row. “In the four years I have been here, Olivia (LaPorta) got it her senior year, then Amanda (Ponce) got it last year, and now Madison is able to get it this year, so that’s pretty cool.”
Wellen pulled within one point of 1,000 after scoring nine in the first quarter, while freshman guard Ellie Brown threw in six points and senior post players Alex LaPorta and Hayley Taylor each chipped in four points to help the Bulldogs run away from the Indians for a 25-3 lead after eight minutes of play.
Highland never looked back en route to building its lead every quarter. The Bulldogs led 39-12 at halftime and 61-17 after three periods before finishing up with its largest margin of 52 at the final score.
Highland, which advanced to face Althoff in the quarterfinals Tuesday night (after press time), got every player into the game, with 10 of them numbering in the scoring column.
Wellen and LaPorta both reached double figures in scoring with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Also scoring points for the Bulldogs were Brown (eight), Taylor (eight), junior Lauren Baer (eight), junior Rece Portell (four), senior Abby Melosi (four), senior Katie Kampwerth (four), freshman Megan Kronk (three) and senior Alisse Koishor (two).
Highland’s defense wreaked havoc on Carlyle (0-19) as the Indians shot a dismal 12.8 percent (5-for-39) from the field and turned the ball over 25 times.
“I thought we came out this morning and played pretty well for a 10 o’clock start,” Arbuthnot said. “We practice a lot of the time at 10, and I thought the kids would be ready to play, and they were. We got a lot of kids a lot of playing time and were able to work on our defense a little bit. We’re at the point of the season where everybody should be in pretty good shape, and I gave the starters probably a little more playing time than I normally would have, but that was just because we had a week off.”
Highland advances to face Althoff in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Althoff knocked off Hillsboro 82-73 in double overtime in the first round.
Brooklynn Smith led Carlyle with six points while Kali Michael and Lexi Steele each added five points for the Indians.
Highland 68, Mascoutah 15
The Bulldogs blanked the Indians by a jaw-dropping margin of 28-0 at HHS on Monday, Jan. 9 in the first quarter and never looked back en route to improving to 5-1 in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Highland, which outscored Mascoutah 14-7 in the second quarter, 17-4 in the third period and 9-4 in the fourth stanza, got everybody into the game and 11 of them scored points.
Wellen and LaPorta hit double digits in scoring again with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Also producing points for the Bulldogs were Portell and Kampwerth each with eight points, senior Breanna Frahm with five points, Taylor, Baer and Koishor with four points apiece, Brown and Kronk each with three points, and sophomore Mae Riffel with two points.
Mascoutah (4-14) was ice cold with its shooting touch and finished with only an 11 percent (5-for-44) success rate.
Erin Brooks paced the Indians with eight points.
“I know they are in a rebuilding state right now and our main thing right now is to clean up some things and keep everybody involved, and a lot of people got a lot of quality (playing) time,” Arbuthnot said. “I thought we played pretty well and all 15 of our players gave us some good, solid minutes and played hard. When we had the starters in the last time, we were working on holding the ball and our delay game.”