This is the Lady Rebels' second Kell championship in three years.
The Lady Rebs also picked up two home conference wins against Gosnell, 57-37, on Jan. 13, and Pocahontas, 41-24, on Jan. 15, making it a quite productive week for Highland.
The finals of the Kell Classic was postponed a week because of bad weather, but Lady Rebels Alison Price, Kristen Ellis and Alex Isaacs didn't seemed bothered by the delay, as they exploded in the second quarter by shooting 77 percent from the floor, while Southside struggled to get a shot to drop.
The Lady Rebs put together a 13-0 run thanks to two treys by Price, followed by a 7-0 run led by the inside shooting of Ellis and Isaacs. Highland scored on all but one of its second-period possessions.
Highland led 32-13 at halftime.
"I thought their two post kids (Ellis and Isaacs) inside really hurt us with the post-to-post passing. I thought we did a poor job of screening out," said Lady Southerner Head Coach Malcolm Long. "We started out man and tried to go zone, but Highland got hot from the perimeter. Not sure what percentage they shot for the first half, but from my perspective it had to be incredibly high."
The first quarter saw the lead exchange sides five times and both teams suffered some turnover jitters, but Isaacs was able to finish with a putback and a couple of free throws to give Highland a small 9-7 first-period advantage.
The third quarter looked to be more of the same as Southside struggled to score until they neared the four-minute mark.
But Kaitlin Scribner and Price dropped three 3-pointers to keep a 45-27 Highland advantage.
Kelly Jackson's buzzer beating 3 foretold what Southside would do in the fourth.
"We started hitting perimeter shots tonight and that made it that much better for our big girls inside," said Lady Rebel Head Coach Harlan Davis. "They were able to catch it and they had to back and guard our shooters. Like I said, offense and defense, we couldn't have played much better than we did for three quarters."
An outstanding effort by Lady Southerner Senior Lunden Roberts in the fourth period, plus poor free throw shooting by Highland, made for a very close game.
Highland was seven-of-17 from the charity stripe in the fourth period, missing the front end of a one-and-one twice, to play into Southside's comeback strategy.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Roberts rallied Southside with 23 game-leading points that included five treys in the fourth quarter. Jackson put in 11 of her 15 points in the second half but it wasn't enough to overcome the Lady Rebels dominate second quarter effort.
"I think they did everything they had to do to get back in it by hitting some shots and making us go to the line to hit free throws," explained Davis. "We just had a hard time hitting free throws."
Southside's press changed everything for Highland in the fourth period, causing a few turnovers and initiating a couple of jump ball situations.
The Lady Rebels found it harder to get an uncontested shot in the paint.
"I think the quicker we can attack, the less time they have to match up with our big girls," said Davis. "In the second half, they just slowed the game down for us offensively, so it would give them more time to pressure us defensively."
The Lady Southerners cut the score to 48-41 midway through the quarter before they started sending Highland to the line.
Fortunately, Southside went on a scoring-draught of their own and was unable to score on four consecutive possessions.
It really got heated when Jackson made the first of two free throws with less than a minute left in the game, but she missed her second.
Sami Hallowell snagged the rebound and fed it to Jackson for a trey to make the score 51-45.
Price hit both of her free throws, but Roberts hit her third 3 of the quarter.
Her next 3-pointer with eight seconds left Highland with a slim three-point margin. Price and Ginnie Long managed to hit two out of four free throws to make Roberts final three at the buzzer meaningless.
Highland (12-5, 6-1 3-4A) was led by Price with 19 points followed by Ellis with 12 and Isaacs with 11.
"When the bracket came out, I knew that if we were fortunate to make it to the finals I thought Highland would be the team on the other side that would make the finals." said Long.
The Lady Rebs jumped out to a 12-4 first quarter lead and didn't let up on Pocahontas for the rest of the game.
Isaacs score 10 of her game-leading 12 points in the first half as Highland led 23-12 at halftime.
A consistent rebounder this season, Ellis started finding her shot putting in six of her eight points in the third to extend the Lady Rebel lead to 33-17.
Kristina Langston scored six of her eight points in the fourth to close out the game for Highland.
Starting the game with an 11-0 run helped the Lady Rebs put away the Gosnell Lady Pirates early. Isaacs had 13 first quarter points to get Highland out to a 21-7 first period lead.
Highland extended the advantage to 33-17 at halftime.
Scoring on all of their third quarter possession, Ellis scored the first bucket, Long the next three for seven points and Isaacs closed out the half with nine to outscore Gosnell 18-8.
Isaacs led the team with 22 points.
Long had 10 and Ellis added eight.