Girls Basketball

Highland wins second-straight title at Mascoutah

The inside-outside combination of Alex LaPorta and Madison Wellen scored 11 points in the first quarter, and the Highland Bulldogs were never threatened as they captured a second-straight championship with a 52-25 win over Mater Dei at the Mascoutah Holiday Invitational.

Wellen scored on a 10-foot jumper and added a 3-pointer in the first four minutes while LaPorta added three baskets from short range as the Bulldogs (12-3) took early command.

Freshman Ellie Brown added seven second quarter points to help Highland take a 31-13 lead into halftime.

Highland’s title is the school’s fourth; in addition to 2015, the Bulldogs won the championship in 2006 and 2010.

“We played well here this week, and in the last three weeks or so it seems like we’ve kicked it up a notch. Our intensity has really improved on both ends of the floor,” Highland coach Mike Arbuthnot said. “We enjoy coming to play at Mascoutah because of the great competition we see here. It helps you play well for four-straight games. We did that here this week.”

Wellen led Highland with 21 points, while Rece Portell had nine, and Brown and LaPorta added eight points each. Like LaPorta, an honorable mention all-state selection a year ago, Wellen scored eight points when the Bulldogs took their biggest lead of the night — 29 points.

Key sequence

Mater Dei, which had to rally to beat Okawville in the quarterfinals and Belleville West in the semifinal in order to reach the title game, saw any chance of a comeback go away in the opening two minutes of the third quarter.

Wellen opened the period with a pair of short jumpers, Portell hit a 3-point shot and LaPorta scored on an offensive putback.

The 9-2 surge gave Highland a 40-15 lead with about five minutes left in the third quarter.

All-Tournament team

Wellen and LaPorta highlight the 2016 Mascoutah Girls Basketball Holiay Invitational Tournament first-team all-tournament roster. Other first-team members were Althoff senior Kyleigh Vaught, Belleville East sophomore Kaylah Rainey and Belleville West junior Sydney Thurwalker.

Second-team selections were Logan Braundmeier and Kelsey Gerdes, of Mater Dei; Paige Kasten, of Nashville; Madison Hackstadt, of Okawville; and Destiny Johnson, of Belleville East.