Highlands boys varsity basketball defeats Ashland 84-75 in season opener


Maggie Schroeder

Seniors Luke Muller and Sam Vinson run down the court toward the basket.

Last night at 7:30 P.M., the Highlands boys varsity basketball team took on Ashland Blazer High School, defeating them 84-75 and ending Ashland’s 33 game winning streak. 

Ashland was able to have a highly successful season last year, winning the 16th region championship (their state run was cancelled due to COVID-19) against Lewis County. Coming into this season, Ashland had a large target on their back as a team to beat, and the boys were able to do just that.

Head coach Kevin Listerman said, “When you beat a really good team, it’s a great way to measure where we are as a program. It certainly opened eyes around the state, and it certainly will get us some recognition, ending their streak.”

The game began with a bang, as Highlands pulled ahead for an early 6-0 lead, achieved through two three-pointers, within the first few seconds of the game. The first basket of the game was scored by sophomore Will Herald — an amazing opening to his first-ever varsity game as a starter. The Birds continued that momentum, outplaying Ashland and scoring more baskets, ending the first quarter with a score of 24-13. 

Going into the second quarter, the Birds were able to keep the momentum going and widened the score gap from 11 to 12 points, ending halftime with a score of 40-28. Despite the large gap, the Birds knew they still had some work to do in order to pull off the win.

After halftime, Ashland came out strong, closing the gap through a combination of quality plays and fresh legs. The crowd grew loud and restless as the Ashland parent section demanded free throws while the Bluebirds received the majority of them. Ending the third quarter, the score had tightened a little, ending at 63-56. 

The fourth quarter became even more heated as early on the score was close to the closest it had been all game: 67-64. With a team of less dedication, the closure in the score gap may have frazzled them to a loss, but the Bluebirds persevered and continued to play hard, ending the game with a cozy 84-75 win.

During the game, the boys performed exceedingly well, making 50.9% of their baskets to Ashland’s 44.1% and creaming them in three-pointers: making 42.1% to Ashland’s 28.6%. 

The big win last night left Coach Listerman with an optimistic feeling for the rest of the season. He has big goals for the team, whom he feels is very capable of achieving them.

“Obviously, the number one goal is to win the region and go down to play at Rupp Arena. More importantly, we’re going to be focusing on the daily process of getting better and growing more as a group.”

To watch the boys continue their season, tune in on Saturday, January 9 to see the freshman, junior varsity, and varsity teams take on St. Henry High School. Go Birds!