The Highland basketball Lady Bulldogs were not perfect but they were plenty good enough in their home opener to maul the visiting Jerseyville Panthers, 65-41, Monday, Dec. 4.
Next on Thursday, Highland traveled to Waterloo and made the battle of the Bulldogs not much of a tussle at all as HHS steamrolled the host team, 74-23.
The two wins kept Highland unbeaten in Mississippi Valley Conference play at 3-0 while also boosting HHS’ overall ledger to 7-1. HHS traveled to Centralia on Monday which was after the News Leader’s press deadline.
Highland 74, Waterloo 23
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HHS overwhelmed Waterloo by double-digit margins in all four quarter — 18-7 in the first, 21-4 in the second, 20-7 in the third and 15-5 in the fourth.
Highland shot 47 percent (28 of 60) from the field while holding Waterloo to just 38 percent (9 of 24) shooting. In addition, HHS racked up 25 steals and out-rebounded Waterloo 32-12.
All 13 players got minutes for Highland, with 10 of them marking in the scoring column.
Highland had a trio score in double figures, led by senior guard Rece Portell with 18 points. Portell was on fire from the field after burying 6 of 8 field goals, including all five of her 3-point attempts. She also dished out four assists to go with three steals and four rebounds.
Sophomore guards Ellie Brown and Megan Kronk each scored 13 points. Brown also added three steals, two assists and two rebounds while Kronk also logged five boards, three steals and one assist.
Sydney Luedeman had 12 points to be Waterloo’s lone player in double figures.
Also recording stats for HHS were freshman forward Taylor Kesner with seven points, one rebound and one steal; junior guard Emmy Nyquist with six points, four steals, three assists and two boards; junior guard Mae Riffel with six points and one rebound; sophomore forward Madison Clarke with four points and two boards; senior forward Lauren Baer with three points, five boards, one assist and one steal; sophomore guard Ashlyn Klucker with two points, four assists, two steals and one rebound; freshman forward Bella LaPorta with two points, two boards and one assist; junior guard Kayla Eads with four steals, three rebounds and one assist; junior Lexi Taylor with two boards, two steals and one assist; and freshman guard Kirsten Taylor with two assists, two steals and one rebound.
Highland 65, Jerseyville 41
Highland fifth-year coach Mike Arbuthnot told his players kids after the game that they were a little bit out of synch offensively, but they still scored 65 points and he will take that on any given night.
Brown netted a game-high 19 points for the second straight game to lead three Highland players in double figures. She drained 8 of 12 field goals, including 2 of 3 3-pointers, to go along with a game-best four steals and three assists.
Brown poured in nine points in the third quarter, with seven coming in the first one minute, 33 seconds to help the Lady Bulldogs extend a 13-point halftime lead up to 40-21.
“I liked the way we came out in the first couple of minutes of the third quarter,” Arbuthnot said.
Highland stretched the lead into the 20s later in the quarter and for good in the fourth frame.
Portell chipped in 15 points to match Jerseyville’s Abby Manns for the game’s runner-up scoring honors while Nyquist added 10 points before fouling out.
Portell and Brown combined to score 11 points to help the Lady Bulldogs race out to a 12 lead with 2:30 left in the first quarter. Highland led 14-8 after the first eight minutes.
“We had some people step up and have some good ballgames. I thought Ellie and Rece both played really, really well for us,” Arbuthnot said.
Portell also dished out a game-high five assists to go with two rebounds and one steal. Nyquist, who hit 2 of 3 3-pointers and 4 of 7 overall, also produced four assists, three steals and three boards.
Arbuthnot said he was very happy with what his team did on the boards.
“We had been giving up about eight or 10 offensive rebounds a game and tonight we gave up four,” he said. “Those are the things we have been focusing on in practice and I am glad to see it carry over to games.”
Arbuthnot said another area of focus and concern is the team needs to work on communicating better on the defensive end of the floor.
“Defensively, there are some things we have got to clean up,” he said. “We are still not where need to be with talking on defense,” he said. “Switching, rotating and at times we’re overaggressive with our run and jump and things like that... It’s all part of learning and it’s a process.”
Arbuthnot also added that his players need to learn to be more disciplined when they are in foul trouble, especially against tougher competition.
Also supplying stats for Highland were Eads with seven points, five rebounds and one steal; Riffel with four points, four boards, three assists and three steals; Klucker with four points, two rebounds, two steals and one assist; Baer with three points, four boards, two assists and one steal; Taylor with two points and one rebound; and Kronk with one point and one board.