Malik Green and Sean Weinstroer made sure the Highland Bulldogs would not have a fourth successive win over Mascoutah on this night.
Green, a 6-2 senior forward scored 14 of his 19 points in the first quarter and Weinstroer, a senior guard, knocked down six straight 3-pointers in a decisive third quarter run that powered the Indians to an easy 77-50 win over Highland in a Class 3A sectional semifinal on Wednesday night at Mascoutah.
Weinstroer finished the night with a game-high 29 points, including eight three-point baskets to help send Mascoutah (23-11) into the Class 3A sectional championship game on Friday at 7 p.m. against East St. Louis.
“It was very good to see, especially in this atmosphere and playing against Highland, who’s our rival, it means a lot (to win),” Mascoutah coach Justin Love said. “It also means more to our community.”
Thanks to Green’s early big start, the Indians surged to a 20-10 lead after a quarter. The lead was 30-23 at the halftime break. Green had 17 points at the half.
“We had to come out with a fast start because Highland, we had lost to them three times and the fourth time we had that anger in us,” Green said. “I feel like that I needed to go off and my teammates kept feeding me the ball and I was making my shots.”
Mascoutah delivered the knock out blow to Highland in the third quarter with a 36-point explosion.
Weinstroer went into the second half with just nine points but in the third quarter, he started to heat up quickly.
His three-ball and a Cedric Rhodes steal and bucket pushed the lead to 34-23.
Then Weinstroer went to work from beyond the arc, drilling six straight 3-pointers in just over four minutes. His last one swelled the Indians’ lead to 62-29 with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
“I was just sitting on the three-point line,” Weinstroer said. “My team likes to drive and kick it out to me. I just got hot after the first two I made and they kept feeding me in the third quarter.”
Highland coach Brian Perkes gave credit to Weinstroer and Mascoutah.
“Man, he sure knocked shots down and we didn’t,” Perkes said. “Our shooters were not on tonight and that was the big difference in the game. They were making every open look. (Weinstroer) was stroking it.”
Highland, which struggled from the floor shooting all night got another stand-up up performance from senior forward Sam LaPorta. LaPorta, who is headed to Iowa to play football this fall finished his final game as a Bulldog with 18 points.
“That’s a crazy environment to play in and we’ve played in some crazy environments before but to go along with that, when it’s a game of runs and they make a run for 32 minutes it looks like they’re playing some pretty good basketball, which they were,” LaPorta said.
The season ended short of a sectional title for the Bulldogs (28-6), but Perkes knows his club had a special year. Highland set a school record for wins (26) and won the Mississippi Valley Conference championship with an undefeated league mark.
“I told our kids, I’m proud of them,” Perkes said. “We had a super season, disappointed with the way it ended but it’s not going to change my opinion of the guys in our locker room.”