Birds soar over Ashland Blazer Tomcats to state championships


Lexie Crawford

Senior Sam Vinson meets his competitor at the rim, blocking his attempted dunk.

Today at 2:00 p.m., the Highlands boys varsity basketball team made their third trip down to Rupp Arena to play in the Final Four of the KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen state tournament. The Birds went up against the Ashland Blazer Tomcats and struck them down 66-50, Highlands.

Like the game yesterday, Highlands started off strong. They made a three-point shot within the first few seconds, showing Ashland Blazer who’s boss. However, Ashland Blazer was not prepared to back down this early in the game. By the end of the first quarter, the Tomcats led Highlands 21-17, Ashland Blazer.

Going into the second quarter, Highlands slowed down a bit. They took their time on shots, set up effective plays, and stayed on their competitors when playing defense. Near the end of the second quarter, senior Sam Vinson met his competitor at the rim, blocking the Tomcat’s attempted dunk. In doing so, the Tomcats’ energy dropped, giving Highlands their chance to swoop in and steal the lead. The second quarter ended 36-32, Highlands.

At halftime, fans from both teams were again pitted against each other to see how many free throws each could make. Sophomore Carson Schwalbach was the pick from Highlands and won against the Tomcats’ competitor.

When the game resumed, Highlands had a game plan and were determined to come out victorious. By the end of the third quarter, the score was 51-44, Highlands. The Birds’ lead over the Tomcats only continued to grow during the rest of the game. Drawing some fouls, playing effectively defensively, and taking as many solid shots as possible put them well ahead of the Tomcats. In the end, Highlands beat Ashland Blazer 66-50.

The Birds are ecstatic to be headed to the championships.

Junior Zach Barth said, “There’s only one more game of basketball in the state and being a part of that is insane. I love my brothers and the connection we’ve made as a team makes everything more enjoyable. We’re excited to keep this going!”

The Birds will play their fourth and final game of this tournament tonight at 8:00 p.m. against the Elizabethtown Panthers.