Highland was able to stay within striking distance of highly-seeded St. Francis DeSales in their Saturday sectional basketball contest for two-and-a-half quarters, but the host Stallions were able to pull away over the final 12 minutes of the contest to claim a 66-44 win and end the Scot season with a 14-9 mark.
The KMAC champions trailed the entire game, as DeSales opened the afternoon contest with a pair of baskets to lead 4-0 after two minutes had passed, but they would keep it close. A basket and free throw by Chase Carpenter made it 4-3 and a pair of Noah Dado free throws kept the deficit at one point after three minutes had elapsed.
While DeSales would mostly control the remainder of the period, three-pointers from Andrew Wheeler and Carpenter kept the Scots within a 17-11 mark after the opening quarter.
DeSales opened the second quarter in the same way as the first, scoring the first four points of the period to boost their lead to a 10-point score. The teams played the rest of the quarter evenly, as Branton Howard scored seven points to lead Highland, to keep the margin at 10 with the Scots trailing 34-24.
“We did a great job throughout the game of handling their pressure,” said Highland coach Chris Powell. “We had two moments — in the second and one at the end of the third — we had turnovers and they made a run. I thought the majority of the game we handled it well. There were just two critical time periods we didn’t.”
For the first 4:14 of the third quarter, it looked like Highland would continue to stay close to their hosts. Four points by Dado and another Wheeler three-pointer helped keep the score within a 41-32 margin. Unfortunately for the Scots, DeSales finished the quarter on an 11-1 run to turn that nine-point margin into a 52-33 deficit going into the fourth.
Both Ty Stiffler and Dado scored four each over the final eight minutes, but Highland would not be able to overcome DeSales’ lead as their season ended at the Columbus school.
Dado led Highland with 11 points, while both Wheeler and Carpenter finished with nine. All three of those players, as well as Ian Taylor and Mack Anglin, will graduate this year, leaving the varsity Scots with a lot of production that will need to be replaced.
“It’s going to be hard,” said Powell. “They’re great kids and fun to coach. They’re good basketball players and great young men. They make the community better, the school better and me a better coach. I’ll miss them a lot.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS