Highland: Sports

Highland falls to Eagles in third-place tilt

Highland freshman Bella LaPorta looks to score inside over Civic Memorial sophomore Anna Hall during the second half of the Lady Bulldogs’ 51-45 loss to the Eagles in the Saturday afternoon in the third-place game of the 32nd Annual Highland Scott Credit Union Girls Basketball Touranment.
Highland freshman Bella LaPorta looks to score inside over Civic Memorial sophomore Anna Hall during the second half of the Lady Bulldogs’ 51-45 loss to the Eagles in the Saturday afternoon in the third-place game of the 32nd Annual Highland Scott Credit Union Girls Basketball Touranment. dfussner@bnd.com

Civic Memorial used a 23-8 scoring advantage in the second quarter to turn the tide and go on for a 51-45 victory over Highland and take third place Saturday at the 32nd Annual Highland Scott Credit Union Girls Basketball Tournament.

Highland (14-8) led 10-4 after the first quarter, but CM’s Alaira Tyrus scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the second quarter, including hitting two of her 3-pointers, while Kaylee Eaton chipped in five of her 10 points in the frame and Hannah Sontag converted back-to-back steals into layups for all of her points to end the quarter to put an exclamation on a 23-8 scoring advantage in the frame as the Eagles (21-2) took a comfortable 27-18 lead at halftime.

The Lady Bulldogs would hang within striking distance but could never catch up to the Eagles. Civic Memorial’s Anna Hall was in foul trouble in the first half, but she came up big down the stretch, scoring seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Eagles hold Highland at bay.

In addition, CM’s Kourtland Tyus contributed seven points, five assists and three steals.

For Highland, Rece Portell scored a game-high 15 points and Ellie Brown added 11 points. Portell, who also had three rebounds and two assists, was named to the Highland All-Tournament First Team while Brown, who also added two assists, two steals and two boards, received second-team honors.

It was CM’s second consecutive win at Highland this season, although the Bulldogs were much more competitive this time around after losing 52-25 on their home floor back on Dec. 20.

The two teams will meet again on tonight at CM for their second meeting in Mississippi Valley Conference play. The game will decide whether the Eagles win the conference outright or Highland will win at least a share of the league crown for the fifth consecutive year.

Portell said despite the loss, she and her teammates know they can compete with CM.

“I think our team has started to play hard every game for 32 minutes,” Portell said. “We were so close in some of the games we lost and just a few possessions away from a different result as coach (Mike) Arb (Arbuthnot) would say. The first quarter and the game in general should give our team lots of confidence for Wednesday. You know CM has threats, but once we connect and communicate on every possession, we know we can beat them.”

For the game, CM shot 44 percent (17 of 39), while Highland shot 33 percent (11 of 33), including just 29 percent (5 of 17) on two-point attempts. The Eagles also had almost half as many turnovers, with nine, compared to 17 miscues for the Bulldogs.

Also producing numbers for Highland were Tayor Kesner with four points and four rebounds; Mae Riffel with four points and two boards; Lauren Baer with three points, three rebounds and one assist; Emmy Nyquist with three points, two assists and one board; Ashlyn Klucker with three points; and Bella LaPorta with two points and six rebounds

O’Fallon 53, Highland 47

Senior Sydney Thurwalker scored 18 points — including two free throws with 17 seconds remaining — to lift the O’Fallon Panthers past Highland 53-47 Thursday in a semifinal game at the 32nd annual Highland Scott Credit Union Girls Basketball Tournament.

The defending champion Bulldogs, fighting from behind for much of the night, closed to within 47-45 with 1:19 remaining on a 3-pointer by Portell.

Following a basket by Thurwalker, Portell scored again to cut the margin to 49-47. After an exchange of possessions, Thurwalker, who was only 2 of 6 from the foul line, missed the front end of a 1-and 1, giving the Bulldogs a chance to tie with 21.8 seconds remaining.

But when Brown was missed a short baseline jumper, Thurwalker grabbed the rebound and was fouled. After Thurwalker increased the lead to 51-47, senior Jayla Stubblefield hit a layup as time expired and the Panthers were in a tournament championship for the third time this season.

“I told the girls in the locker room that we’re 11-0 in tournaments this season, and that’s something. With the quality teams that have played, that’s something of which they can be proud,” a relieved O’Fallon coach Nick Knolhoff said. “Was I nervous before Sydney (Thurwalker) shot the free throws? No, because I know what a great shooter she is. We beat a very good Highland team tonight.”

Junior Reyna Bullock added 12 points, and Stubblefield chipped in with 10 for O’Fallon.

Portell led Highland with 22 points. She also finished the game with seven rebounds and two assists.

LaPorta added eight points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal for the Bulldogs.

“I was very pleased at the effort,” Bulldogs coach Mike Arbuthnot said. “The shot by Brown in the end was one that we wanted. There was contact on the play ... I thought one of the keys was, when we got defensive stops, we didn’t convert on the offensive end of the court.”

Winner of the Mascoutah Invitational less than a month ago, O’Fallon built a 24-16 lead midway through the second quarter as reserve guard Reyna Bullock — averaging only 2.7 points entering play Thursday — hit a pair of 3-point shots and scored nine points.

But Highland, playing on its home floor, responded with a 13-2 run over the final 4:03 of the half to take a 29-26 lead.

Portell, who scored 15 points in the first half, connected on five free throws, and when LaPorta added four points and Brown hit a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer, the Bulldogs had a three-point lead at the break.

Brown wound up with seven points, four assists and one steal. The Bulldogs also received six points from Kronk, four points and two rebounds from Baer, and a game-high seven assists and one steal from Nyquist.

Highland 44, Teutopolis 36

Highland finally got its elusive signature win Tuesday, Jan. 16 with a 44-36 upset of Teutopolis in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

“We were looking for a signature win as we went through this season, and we were able to get one tonight,” Arbuthnot said. “We hope this spearheads us into a lot of special things as the rest of the season goes on.”

Highland’s trio of guards led the way to the victory, with Brown and Portell scoring in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Brown poured in eight of her points in the first quarter to help the Bulldogs forge an 11-11 tie with Tuetopolis after one quarter of play. Brown also wrapped up with four assists and one steal.

Portell dumped in eight of her points in the third quarter to help Highland build its eight-points lead heading into the final eight minutes. Portell also added up with five rebounds and one steal.

Nyquist chipped in nine points, with four of them coming from the free-throw line in the final 53 seconds. Nyquist also finished with five assists, three steals and a pair of rebounds.

Riffel also sank a pair of foul shots with 37.3 ticks left.

Junior Sadie Bueker scored a game-high 16 points for Teutopolis.

Highland used a 12-5 run to stretch a precarious 20-19 lead into a 32-24 advantage. The Lady Shoes could never catch up, although they chopped it down to 37-36 on a senior Jolene Buekeer’s layup.

But the Bulldogs made enough free throws and played tough enough defense to seal the deal.

“I liked our defensive effort down the stretch, holding a T-Town team to 36 points says a lot and that’s pretty cool,” Arbuthnot said.

LaPorta led Highland on the boards with seven to go with two points, one assist and one steal. Riffel chipped in eight points, two steals, one assist and one rebound, and Baer had two points, two boards and one assist.