Everything came together for the Highland boys’ basketball team on Friday night when they hosted Mount Gilead in a KMAC game.
The team played stifling defense in a 76-38 win on the school’s Winter Homecoming night and senior Mack Anglin was able to reach the 1000-point mark early in the fourth quarter.
“It was a perfect storm of everything,” said Scot coach Chris Powell. “We hadn’t addressed Mack’s 1000th with any of our guys. When he hit a three at the end of the third, that was the first time we spoke of it to anyone.”
Highland’s defense allowed them to go on multiple runs that allowed them to extend their lead consistently throughout the game.
With the score tied at two just over a minute into the action, Highland got a bucket from Andrew Wheeler followed by seven straight Anglin points to turn a tie game into a nine-point Scot lead over a span of 66 seconds. After MG’s Mason Mollohan, who also hit the 1000-point mark earlier this month, tallied a three-pointer and a pair of free throws for the Indians, the Scots finished the quarter strongly.
Ian Taylor scored three points and both Wheeler and Noah Dado had two apiece as Highland held an 18-7 edge after eight minutes.
A three-pointer by Mollohan followed by a basket from Jackson Huffer brought MG back within six early in the second period. However, with the score 24-16 in favor of Highland at the 4:03 mark of the period, the Indians found themselves outscored 12-3 over those final minutes of the half.
Anglin tallied six of Highland’s points during their run, while MG could only muster a Huffer three as they fell behind by a 36-19 margin. Indian coach Dan Strasser noted that his team’s issues with wasted possessions was on full display during the game.
“That’s pretty much been our season in a nutshell,” he said. “We talk about it and try to drill in practice to prevent it. It snowballs. We talk about when they try to speed us up, we can’t force things. Bad shots are the same as turnovers.”
Highland effectively put the game away with a dominant third-quarter performance, opening the period with an 18-2 run sparked by eight Taylor points to lead 54-21. Strasser stated that his team simply needs more help from the team’s supporting cast, as Mollohan had 12 points at this time, while the rest of the team had combined for nine.
“This whole season depends on who steps up from a JV role or a role player role,” he said. “Some other guys need to step up and make plays to punish them for giving him (Mollohan) so much attention.”
After Micah Tuggle hit a basket and free throw and Huffer added a basket for the Indians, Anglin scored five straight points to end the third quarter with Highland up 59-26. He would add a pair of free throws to open the fourth quarter and reach the 1000-point mark. From there, both teams gradually emptied their benches, as the Scots went on to win and come closer to claiming the KMAC title. Currently, they’re 9-1 in league play — two games ahead of Centerburg and Fredericktown with four league games left.
“We have a good cushion, but we’re not sleeping on it,” said Powell. “We want to win the league cleanly. The last two years, we had a chance, but let it slip away.”
One thing that gives the coach optimism is the way they are playing on offense now.
“We probably in the last five games have averaged 15 assists, which is incredible,” he said. “The offensive stuff has really clicked. Running Princeton isn’t easy. As a coach, it makes me look good. The secret is I’m staying out of their way at the moment.”
Anglin led Highland with 25 points, while Taylor scored 12, Wheeler finished with 10 and Dado added eight. For Mount Gilead, Mollohan had 12 and Colton High came off the bench to finish with eight.