Highland was strong on defense and behind the arc on Friday night when they hosted Lakewood in their season-opening boys’ basketball game and the end result was a 51-39 win.
The Scots honored the Marengo Wildcats — one of three schools that were consolidated into the Highland school district — by wearing replicas of their uniforms. This is the second straight year Highland has commemorated one of those schools in their home opener and the second straight year they’ve won in that game.
Highland hit 11 three-pointers in the game and utilized a strong third quarter to pull away from their opponents after a back-and-forth first half.
“The way they cam and kind of executed the game plan in the second half,” said head coach Mike DeLaney in explaining how his team was able to pull away. “I thought they really came out and applied what we talked about and did a good job.”
After falling in a 4-0 hole in the first quarter, the Scot defense shut out the Lancers for over seven minutes, allowing them to surge in front. Three-pointers by Gavin Toombs, Zach Church and Kort Sears helped stake the team to an 11-4 advantage after eight minutes.
Another three from Toombs in the early stages of the second quarter made it a 10-point lead, but Lakewood would rally to make a game of it. Carson Watts scored six points for the Lancers and Colton Ferry drained a late three to tie the game at 19 going into the half.
The duo of Toombs and Brock Church came through for Highland in the third quarter offensively and the defense held Lakewood to five points in the first seven minutes of the period, as the Scots pulled away after the intermission.
“Especially defensively,” said DeLaney. “I thought our kids really sat down and guarded their personnel the way we needed to gad them.”
And the long-range shooting didn’t hurt either. Brock Church connected three times behind the arc, while Toombs added another three in the third.
“It opens things up in the middle,” said DeLaney. “They were really collapsing down on our post player there in the second half and we had kids step up. Brock Church, Ranger Steck and Gavin Toombs all stepped up and hit big shots for us.”
Toombs and Brock Church combined for all 19 of Highland’s third-quarter points. While Ferry scored four points in the last minute of the period for Lakewood, the Scots still led 38-28 heading into the fourth.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Steck and Brock Church to open the fourth boosted the Highland lead to a 44-28 score. While the Lancers were able to temporarily trim their deficit to nine with 3:39 left in regulation, a Toombs three-pointer pushed the Scot lead back to double-digits, which is where it remained the rest of the way.
Both Toombs (19 points) and Brock Church (16) hit four three-pointers in leading the Scots in scoring on the night. DeLaney added that he felt everyone on the team played well — a great way to open a new season.
“I was really happy with everybody that played,” he said. “I thought they all came in and were really focused and helped us move toward winning. We can enjoy this for a day or so and then we’ve got to get ready for Fredericktown on Tuesday at Fredericktown.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS