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By David Sharp
Highland (3-6) stole the basketball 15 times in the first half and forced 22 Scotland County turnovers in the opening 16 minutes. The Cougars capitalized on extra possessions and transition baskets for a 62-28 win in January 3, 2020 varsity boys play at Scotland County.
Highland pressured the youthful Scotland County ball handlers, especially in the first half. Jacob Klocke drained a Highland free throw for a 12-4 first-quarter lead. The Cougars grabbed rebounds.
The Tigers (2-6) were unable to get the ball through the cylinder. Highland raced on a 9-2 run. Robert Goehl stole the ball and scored for a 21-6 lead with 4:48 showing on the first-half clock.
The Cougars took good shots and stretched their lead to 28-11 when Alex Meyer scored with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. Highland led 31-14 after playing their best half of the season to date.
Highland appeared confident on the court, stretching their edge to 45-20 after three quarters. The Cougars kept pushing with the hope of increasing their lead to 30 points. “The boys went in at halftime and said, ‘hey let’s get Justin (Plant) in”, Brock Butler said. “He comes to practice. He probably has the most heart on the team.
Highland led 36-16 when Dylan Schroeder scored with 6:20 to play in the game. The effort wasn’t to run up the score but to get the heart and soul of their team onto the court.
Justin Plant entered the game around the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter. Plant heated up and sank three home run balls in the final two minutes of play. Justin closed the books with a three-ball out of the corner with 17 seconds to play in the game.
Highland was able to gather confidence and momentum with a 62-28 road win. “We tried to get after it a little bit more on the defensive end of the floor tonight,” Highland coach Brock Butler said. “And it showed. The chances that we do get and miss, we have got to make those.”
Highland scored 21 field goals while limiting Scotland County to six two-pointers defensively. The Tigers sank two three-balls and were 10-21 from the free-throw line.
“In the big games we have coming up against conference teams, we have got to make those shots,” Brock Butler said. “The kids are young, but at the end of the day, they are working hard for me. That’s all I can ask. They are going to play hard. That is the way they are built.”
“These kids have got to get their confidence built up. A couple of them played a little bit last year, but this is the first year of playing varsity basketball for several of them,” Coach Butler said.
“We have got to take our growing pains now and find our rhythm. This isn’t going to change overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and effort,” Brock Butler said. “We are starting to figure out how to let these boys get out and use their athleticism and speed.”
“Scotland letting us get Justin the ball and letting him shoot, all props to them,” Brock Butler said of Justin Plant. “He get hot in a hurry. When he sees one go in, the rest can go in. We are blessed to have a kid like that. He takes the edge off. He’s just fun to have around.”
Nine different Highland players scored. Alex Meyer led all scorers with 11 points. Dalton Klocke was in double figures with ten points. Justin Plant and Drew Mallett scored nine points each.
Dylan Schroeder put in seven points. Robert Goehl and Blake Garner scored five points each. Brandon Holder scored four points. Jacob Klocke scored two and Justin Hawkins added one Cougar point.
Owen Triplett led Scotland County with nine points. Carson Harrison scored eight Tiger points.