The Highland Lady Rebels opened play in the annual NEA Tournament with a 53-39 victory over Westside in the girls' 4A-5A-6A brackets Dec. 26 at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
The battle between the two 3-4A Conference foes swung Highland's way with a big third period from the Lady Rebs.
Down 22-19 at the half, Highland outscored the Lady Warriors 20-5 in the third period to grab control of the contest.
Kaitlyn Scribner and Bobie Jo Cooper tossed in 11 points apiece to pace Highland, while Alex Issacs posted 10 points, all in the second half after setting out the first two frames with an ankle injury. Kristina Langston also finished with 10 points for the Lady Rebs.
In the the boys' 4A-5A-6A brackets, Highland managed to hang with the top-seeded Westside Warriors for a half before the Warriors opened up some breathing room down the Stretch in the second half, with the Rebels falling 63-37 Dec. 26.
Highland's first-half efforts were boosted by five treys in the first two periods, including one by Kenny Nicholson (20 points) that beat the halftime buzzer.
The Warriors led 14-12 after one period of play and 30-21 at intermission.
But Westside got rolling in the second half and opened up a big lead that the Rebels could not cut into.