The Highland High girls basketball team used its speed to pressure Centralia, force turnovers and get out in transition for easy baskets en route to dumping in an eye-popping 45 points in the first half.
That halftime total was 14 points more than the Orphans scored in the entire game as the Lady Bulldogs ran circles around the Orphans for a 75-31 season-opening victory to open their five-game slate at the Salem Lady Wildcats Thanksgiving Tournament.
All 12 players on Highland’s roster got into the game and 10 of them registered in the scoring column.
A four-pronged guard attack provided the bulk of the scoring for the Lady Bulldogs (1-0) as the quartet combined for 60 points.
Brown led the charge with 20 points after hitting six field goals and eight of 12 free throws.
Senior Rece Portell was next on the scoring pylon with 17 points on eight field goals, including one 3-pointer, while sophomore Ashlyn Klucker netted 14 points, highlighted by a trio of trifetas.
In addition, junior guard Emmy Nyquist narrowly missed out on hitting double digits with nine points.
“We knew going into this season we are going to play fast,” Portell said. “I️t’s fun for us and it feels pretty good. Right out of the bat, I️ think Emmy got a few steals and connected with me to open it up. I️ think overall everybody gave a lot of effort and our team needs that this year. We played well together tonight and had bench players step up, such as Ashlyn Klucker, who scored 14 for us.
“It was definitely a team effort and everybody was getting their hand on loose balls.”
Also numbering in the scoring column for Highland were junior forward Mae Riffel with four points, junior guard Kayla Eads, junior forward Lexi Taylor, freshman forward Bella LaPorta and sophomore guard Megan Kronk all with two points apiece, and senior forward Lauren Baer with one point.
“Things were definitely working the way we wanted tonight,” Baer said. “This was the perfect game for us to start our season off with because everyone on the bench got in and we were able to get out those first game nerves. Of course there are multiple things we know we need to work on, but overall we shared the ball well and kept our intensity up all game. We just wanted to focus on playing hard and leaving all our effort out on the floor which we accomplished.”
The Lady Bulldogs next play two games on Saturday at Salem, first against Carterville at 12:30 p.m., followed by Althoff at 5:30 p.m.